Latxa sheep are native to Euskal Herria -Navarra and the Basque Country-. There are two varieties: dark-faced and blonde, and they are small to medium sized, as well as thin and agile. They need to be in good shape to go up the mountain and get the fresh grass that grows there. When winter comes, they seek shelter in any of the 30 barns in Goierri. The milk they produce is known for its richness, fruitiness and aroma. Only the milk from Latxa and Carranzana (breed from Biscay) is used to produced the high quality Idiazabal cheese in the Basque Country and Navarre for 8,000 years.
Idiazabal Cheese has its own designation of origin. It is the local cheese of the region, Goierri, but Idiazabal is the village with the oldest known memories of the cheese. Shepherds have been making this cheese and receiving awards not only in Spain but internationally, as a very well-loved and unique product.
Among two natural parks
Each latxa sheep produces a reduced volume of milk but their milk is of great quality: 120 litres each season, only from March to July. Sometimes they’ll make 210 litres. From their raw milk we can make Idiazabal cheese. To get that particular flavour, shepherds and flocks follow the traditional routes determined by seasons: pastureland in spring, summer and autumn, and valleys during winter. Those pastures will be a defining feature on the taste and flavour of the milk. From the sheep we also get Zaldibia’s mondeju, an artisan sausage made in caseríos during September and October.
You will enjoy this cheese even more when you are familiar with its traditional fabrication process: by hand. It comes from the milk of latxa sheep, yes, but it also comes from fields, pastures, meadows, and the hands of shepherds.
These all kept alive the recipe of this cheese traditionally made so that we can enjoy it today. The location of Idiazabal, between the natural parks of Aizkorri-Aratz and Aralar, is key to this process.
Only by visiting Goierri and Idiazabal will you learn everything about this cheese. You may also learn some recipes to cook with it and give this extra delicious taste to any of your meals! In the centre of the town, next to the church, you will see the Shepherd’s Monument, and a verse inscribed reads the necessary elements in grazing: the shepherd dog, the sheep, and the kaiku -container to collect the milk-. Latxa sheeps are also honoured in Idiazabal: you can find a ceramic sculpture of them in Gernika Tree square, next to a cutting of this very famous tree -very special for the Basques!- planted right there!
Know the product and the process of making Idiazabal cheese
The interpretation and cheese tasting centre is the place where you should go to get info, try the cheese, or visit a dairy. There are guided tours, like Quesería Ondramuño where the Aranburu family in charge of the business will explain how they make cheese everyday. If you go to Caserío Gaztañaditxulo, you will see the actual work of the shepherd dog, feed the lambs, see how they behave… and after all this, you will be ready to try some delicious cheese and natural cider!
At Caserío Ondarre in Segura, the family Goiburu has been working for more than 500 years and they can sure tell you what this is all about, as well as show you the stable, the milking parlour and the cheese-making room. Their cheese won the first prize in the annual Championship of Idiazabal Cheese in 2012, held in Ordizia, and it was sold in the next auction for 13,050€… half a cheese!
Come visit and start experiencing Goierri!
how to get there
WE'LL HELP YOU PLAN
Get to know Euskadi’s highlands
Our region is very suitable for organising fun and educational activities for kids. The natural parks of Aizkorri-Aratz and Aralar make Goierri the best known in rural tourism and nature …
This is a circular route where you can enjoy two of the biggest pleasures in Goierri: Idiazabal cheese and the mountains! It is an initiative promoted by the Department of …
In Goierri there’s a natural mix between sports and nature. The region is known internationally for its competitions. Know more about it!
Passionate about mountain bike? Get to know the rural side of Euskadi in a whole different way!
Explore one of our passions: the mountain. In Goierri we celebrate 2 trail races known around the world: Zegama-Aizkorri marathon and Ehunmillak ultra-trail (held together with G2H and Marimurumendi marathon …
There is a bike lane -bidegorri- connecting the towns in the valley. You can also reach the ones inside the mountains. It is incredible how people love cycling here! Some …
The hike takes place between the villages of Olaberria and Idiazabal, and their caseríos. Olaberria, known as Goierri’s Balcony, is a small village in the hillocks.
The North route to Santiago de Compostela and San Adrián’s tunnel have both been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. What’s the story of this tunnel that makes it such …
Meet the most popular peak in the Basque Country: the Aizkorri. To get to the summit, we recommend leaving your car in the parking area located under San Adrián’s tunnel. …
Practice sport climbing in Ataun! Come see our walls, there are 250 lines open, several levels of difficulty, and our group of instructors eager to meet you.
True horse lover? IBUR Caserío IBUR is a horse-riding club with professional instructors offering a wide range of activities for adults and kids!
Bowling is a long practiced game in Goierri, where you will find out their tradition and how fun it can be.
Get to know the village of Gaintza with this suggested route. Get a magnificent view of Txindoki and see the caseríos around!