Flavia Spena and Flavio Donati are Romans who fell in love with Aotearoa and established ViaVio Cheese in Nelson in 2016 . Flavia lived the corporate executive life as CFO for perfume, jewellery and resort conglomerate Bulgari, and Flavio played professional rugby in Italy. It was a stint playing rugby in Marlborough in the 1990s that started their fascination with NZ.
Italy has over 1,000 varieties of cheese and they saw the opportunity to introduce Kiwis to new styles by starting a vibrant new business. They use A2 milk from cows at Oaklands Farm, Nelson. They use traditional Italian recipes with no added preservatives. This means their cheeses vary with the seasons and the pasture, providing the perfect reason to consume them regularly.
Their strapline is “Naturale, Italiano, Eccelente.”, perfectly capturing what they are all about (we’d add “bellissimo” too). Their values and artisanship match the best in Aotearoa, and they also bring a whole new dimension by introducing a whole new range of styles. Like all artisans, they are constantly experimenting and expanding their range too. They are well-established in our burgeoning artisan cheese world now, and their cheeses regularly win awards in various categories.
They also regularly suggest Italian recipes and ways of enjoying their fine products, again using local ingredients wherever possible. A good example is melting their fontal onto a poached egg or some mushrooms. In fact Flavio demonstrates that we can learn a lot from the Italian way, when he points out that Italians often eat cheese in place of meat of fish as a main part of a meal.