Each March, the much anticipated California Artisan Cheese Festival comes to Petaluma, California. This weekend-long gala of workshops, farm tours, and tastings celebrates our state’s rich artisan cheese community and its diverse, award-winning cheeses. 2015 marks the 9th year of this annual festival, which is slated for March 20th-22nd at the Sheraton Sonoma County and is expected to draw thousands of attendees to the North Bay for a lively line-up of cheesy festivities.
The festival offers “cultured” aficionados a variety of experiences from behind-the-scenes farm tours and cheese making classes, to educational seminars and chef demonstrations intermingled with a delicious dose of cheese tastings and pairings.
Festival goers can rub elbows with some of the brightest cheese making stars in the artisan cheese movement, and sample a variety of their unique hand-crafted cow, goat, and sheep’s milk offerings. Tickets for activities sell out each year, so be sure to reserve your spot early to avoid disappointment! Click here for a roster of activities.
Event highlights include the Best Bite Cheese Mongers’ Duel on Friday evening, March 20, which pairs cheese mongers with cheesemakers in a light-hearted battle of the bites. Patrons will taste and vote for their favorite bite, as well as sample a variety of offerings on the Fantasy Cheese Table while sipping local wine, beer, and cider.
On Saturday night, don’t miss the Chef vs. Chef Best Bite Competition. This good natured culinary challenge pits 25 of the Bay Area’s best chefs and caterers in a duel to see who can make the best bite using their favorite artisan cheese. Artisan wineries, breweries, and cider makers will also be on hand to pour tastes of their favorite cheese-friendly beverages.
Be sure to return on Sunday for Bubbles & Brunch with Chef Erik Johnson of J Vineyards & Winery. Guests will be treated to a delicious multi-course menu and watch a special live cooking demonstration. After brunch, don’t miss the Artisan Cheese Tasting & Marketplace in the Grand Tasting Tent. This finale event showcases more than 90 artisan cheesemakers, wineries, brewers, cidermakers and chefs who will be sampling and selling their products directly to attendees. It’s a feast for the senses!
A percentage of all ticket sale proceeds from the festival go to nonprofit organizations that work to protect and preserve farm land, encourage future generations of milk producers and cheesemakers, and support the artisan cheese making community in California. Previous festivals have raised more than $70,000 to benefit the Sonoma Land Trust, Marin Agricultural Land Trust, Petaluma Future Farmers of America, California Artisan Cheese Guild, and the Redwood Empire Food Bank.
For more event details and to purchase tickets, visit the California Artisan Cheese Festival website. See you there!