1270 - 1477
The first reference to Fontina
The first reference to Fontina dates back to 1270, while the first mention of this Aosta Valley cheese in literature is in 1477, in the Summa Lacticinorum by Pantaleone di Confienza, a Vercelli physician, although its history has even older origins, handed down from generation to generation.
The first visual testimony dates back a few years before Pantaleone’s text and is found in a fresco in Issogne castle. The fresco depicts an artisan shop with Fontina wheels on the counter as they are still produced and sold today.
Other theories exist regarding the origin of its name. According to some historians, the name Fontina is said to refer to a mountain pasture in Valle d’Aosta called “Fontin“. Other sources, instead, relate it to the old village of Fontinaz. Some other theories, then, associate it to the ancient French term “fondis“, which indicates the capacity of this cheese to melt if exposed to heat, at not particularly high temperatures (melting temperature around 60°C).
The first official classification
However, we have to wait until 1887 for the first official classification. Fontina is mentioned with its characteristics in the yearbook of the Experimental Station of the dairy of Lodi in the chapter: “Le Fontine di Val d’Aosta”.
1930 - 1940
The second classification
The second classification was introduced in the 30s and 40s by the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, through the Alpine Experimental Station in Salice d’Ulzio and the Zoo-technical Dairy Institute in Turin.
The Designation of Origin
The Presidential Decree of 1955 recognized the Designation of Origin.
The Fontina Designation of Origin
Giulio Angelo Negri, in “Il casaro valdostano”, offered a first organized arrangement of the research carried out up to that time.
The Ministerial Decree of June 26 1957 entrusted the Consortium of Fontina Producers (**LINK**) with the task of supervising the production and marketing of cheese for which the Fontina Designation of Origin was authorized. The Consortium was given the right to mark the product with markings or identifying marks. In the first year, 75,000 wheels were branded; a decade later the quantity doubled and by the end of the 1980s, it had reached 300,000 wheels. In addition, production has continued to grow up to the present day.
In 1996, exactly fortyone years after obtaining the Designation of Origin, the European Commission granted Fontina the Protected Designation of Origin (PDO).
2002 – today
Protection, promotion and enhancement
The Consortium of Producers and Protection of Fontina PDO was recognized by the Decree of the Ministry of Agricultural, Food and Forestry Policy of April 26 2002, and acquired specific tasks and duties. In particular, the Decree recalls the tasks referred to in Article 14, paragraph 15, of Law No. 526 of 21 December 1999, attributing to the Consortium the functions of protection, promotion, enhancement, consumer information and general care of the interests relating to the designation.