What would life be like without cheese? Think about it. There's the classic grilled cheese, fondues and pastas, enchiladas and pizzas...the list goes on. Cheese makes life tastier, especially when paired with all sorts of other good foods, wine and beer.
Teaching folks about artisan cheese is what California’s Artisan Cheese Festival is all about. The 7th annual festival runs the weekend of March 22nd – 24th, at the Sheraton Sonoma County in Petaluma. Artisan cheese experts, authors, chefs and winemakers will be leading seminars, pairings, tastings, farm tours, cheese-making classes and cheese-focused demonstrations. It focuses on California cheeses, but there’s always a few good out-of-towners worth checking out as well.
Since the first festival in 2007, more than 10,000 attendees have learned how to taste, buy, serve and enjoy artisan cheeses from expert award winning cheesemakers. You don’t have to be a master chef. Learn how to create a tasty cheese platter, no matter your budget, or twists on the perennial favorite, mac n' cheese.
There’s something going on every day. The Behind-the-Scenes Cheese Country Farm Tours & Lunches on Friday are sold out, but tickets are still available for the evening Meet the Cheesemakers and Their Cheeses event. Artisan cheeses, wines and beers will be available for sampling. Saturday’s Grand Cheese Tasting and Best in Cheese Competition is a roam around tasting event more than 50 Californian artisan cheesemakers, restaurants, breweries and wineries. There’s a good combination of names you’ll probably know and some newbies worth your taste buds attention. Sunday features an artisan cheese-inspired brunch and Artisan Cheese Tasting and Marketplace.
For a Good Cause
California’s Artisan Cheese Festival is a non-profit organization. Along with teaching folks about artisan cheeses, the organization supports its own donating 10% of ticket proceeds to Sonoma Land Trust, Marin Agricultural Land Trust, Petaluma Future Farmers of America, California Artisan Cheese Guild and Redwood Empire Food Bank. In its young history, the Artisan Cheese Festival has contributed more than $45,000 to these non-profit organizations. Think of it as eating and drinking for many good causes.
Make it a Weekend
The Petaluma locale serves as a good launching point for a number of fun weekend activities. There’s Santa Rosa, along with champagne and giant redwoods to explore to the north, beaches worth walking to the west in Bodega Bay, and a seemingly endless number of wineries off of Highway 12 in Sonoma County wine country.
Dana can be found on Twitter @drebmann