En route to Juifenalm Alpine Pasture Hut you can hear the cows mooing, the hens clucking and the pigs grunting even before you arrive! This wonderful place high above Gries im Sellrain is filled with happy family life and animals. Which isn’t surprising, as this Alpine retreat is a working farm—and a true natural gem. And they serve a wonderful selection of homemade specialties. Yummy!
Commonly growing in rocky places at high altitude, Edelweiss is a well-known mountain flower. At Juifenalm Alpine Pasture Hut in Sellrain/Lüsensertal Valley, however, you can cut Edelweiss with a butter knife: Their wonderful Alpine pasture butter is made on premises in wooden butter moulds, which have a beautiful Edelweiss flower motif to decorate the butter patties. On the whole, everything they serve up here comes to the table with much love for attention. Foodies can indulge in grey cheese, Alpine pasture mozzarella cheese and a mouthwatering selection of dumplings, including spinach dumplings, cheese dumplings, bacon dumplings, beetroot dumplings and chanterelle dumplings. All of which is homemade, of course!
Since 2015, Sylvia and Gotthard Stern have been running Juifenalm Alpine Pasture Hut, sitting here under a starry sky at an elevation of 2,022 meters above sea level. Sitting? Well, sitting is what they do only on rare occasions! This is a busy place in summer as well as in winter—and cooking to impress a room full of hungry hikers or skiers is a challenge. That’s why they have a dedicated team around them, and the Stern children and granddaughter Tamia lend a helping hand on weekends.
A Wide Variety of Animals
Juifenalm is a popular and rewarding destination for families, as it is filled with animals, such as cows, horses, goats, rabbits, pigs and chicken. Completing the friendly and devoted Alpine pasture family is Dojan, the dog. He has everything under control and it seems as if he wants to help serving the dishes – or maybe he just wants to taste some delicious treats?
Oh no, Dojan is a well-behaved dog and knows that the cheese is for the guests only. Many of them come here for the cheese alone, as Juifenalm is renowned for its amazing cheese specialties: The milk of their nine dairy cows is made into butter, grey cheese and mozzarella cheese in the tiny Alpine dairy on premises. Alpine pasture mozzarella cheese is still a rarity, but it is one of the best loved treats served at Juifenalm. What’s the secret in making this special cheese? “Well, truth be told, I don’t know,” admits innkeeper Gotthard Stern, laughing. “All I know is that it tastes great!”
Alpine Pasture Mozzarella with Fresh Tomatoes
Butter and cheese production are the responsibility of dairymaid Daniela Mocker-Ahrer from Innsbruck and we won’t tell her cheese making secrets here. Anyway, the fresh mozzarella balls are served with fresh tomatoes up here on Juifenalm. All vegetables are sourced locally—embodying the locally grown, fresh-food movement is part of a well-run Alpine pasture hut in Tirol.
Apart from her cheese-making tasks, Daniela looks after 30 horses that are grazing on the Alpine pastures. Icelandic horses, Haflinger and Noriker feed on lush grasses and additional treats. The cattle is the responsibility of Alpine herdsman Marcel Haider from Gries im Sellrain. This is hard work; after all, he has to care for a herd of 110, plus the nine dairy cows. Moreover, he always has to have an eye on the twelve goats, which love to roam about the wide open pastures and don’t really like staying near the hut and stable.
Looking for Friendly and Hard-Working Innkeepers
Juifenalm is in possession of a farmers’ cooperative and they use the Alpine pastures for Alpine transhumance (this is the seasonal droving of grazing livestock between the valleys in winter and the high mountain pastures in summer as practiced in many places throughout Tirol). The farmers’ cooperative always looks for innkeepers who are friendly and hard-working, who know how to prepare culinary delicacies and who maintain the sledding run in the winter, as Juifenalm is open in the summer and in the winter.
It is important that the innkeepers feel at home here, and that’s what the Stern Family definitely does. “We can’t tell which season we like more up here, if it’s summer or winter,” say Gotthard and Sylvia. “Both seasons have exhausting and amazing sides to it.”
Stunning Views above Timberline
Juifenalm sits above timberline and affords breathtaking views of the surrounding mountain scenery, particularly of the rugged Stubai Alps with its lofty peaks named Zischgeles, Lampsenspitze, Grießkogel and Freihut. Ski touring enthusiasts sitting here in the summer can’t wait for the first snow to fall. On sunny winter days, the outdoor deck is sometimes that packed that guests sit on their sleds and toboggans while eating. Whizzing down the five-kilometer long sledding run that drops down 640 vertical meters is a special wintertime delight. It’s hard for anyone not to emit a light-hearted giggle as you sail down the mountain, catching a bit of air as you roll over gentle bumps.
Well, but now it’s summertime and the living is easy up here. Instead of sitting on sleds, we sit on benches under sunshades or in a deckchair, have a refreshing drink, enjoy the sun and have a good time. And every now and then, Dojan passes by to check if everything is OK.
Juifenalm Alpine Pasture Hut is readily accessible from the car park at Juifenau (fee applies), south of Gries im Sellrain, within a 2 hour walk. Learn More