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The California Artisan Cheese Festival Celebrates Its 14th Anniversary at Local Farms, Creameries and Tasting Rooms Around Northern California

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Tickets now on sale for the weekend’s wide range of cheese-centric events, March 27-29 2020, featuring one-of-a-kind experiences such as intimate educational Seminars and Pairing Demonstrations and immersive Farm and Producer Tours

SANTA ROSA, Calif.—January 7, 2020—Tickets are now on sale for the country’s premier cheese festival, the California Artisan Cheese Festival, March 27-29, 2020.  This year’s weekend-long Festival will take place in and around the Sonoma County Fairgrounds, Santa Rosa’s historic Flamingo Hotel, and at various local farms, restaurants, creameries and tasting rooms of artisan producers. The Festival brings together cheesemakers, farmers, educators, authors, chefs, cheese mongers, brewers, distillers, and winemakers from all over California for three days of cheese tasting, education and celebration.

Tickets for all of the weekend’s events are now on sale, including the ever-popular Farm and Producer Tours; Saturday night’s Cheese, Bites and Booze! celebration; an exciting new crop of educational hands-on Seminars and Pairing Demos; Sunday’s delectable Bubbles & Brunch; and the weekend’s grand finale Artisan Cheese Tasting & Marketplace.

Some of the noteworthy Seminar topics being offered this year include a Hands-On Cheesemaking seminar where attendees will learn to make mozzarella, chèvre (fresh goat cheese) and burrata; and a Build Your Own Cheese Board seminar where guests will learn tricks for creating their very own visually stunning, Instagram-worthy cheese board. Details about more of Friday and Saturday’s exciting tours and seminars are as follows:

Farm and Producer Tours & Lunch

Back by popular demand are two days of intimate producer tours taking place on Friday and Saturday around Northern California, where guests can explore various local farms, creameries and artisan purveyors. During the guided walking tours, the guests learn how cheese, ciders, and other products are made, meet the producers, farmers, and cheesemakers behind their favorite local products and, of course, taste the fruits of their labor. This year’s Festival is offering six tours on Friday, and two on Saturday, and every tour includes round-trip transportation and lunch. Many of the tours grant behind-the scenes access to new producers who do not regularly offer tours. For example, Friday’s Tour B gives attendees the opportunity to meet and taste one of the state’s newest cheese and butter producers, Bivalve Creamery, which operates out of the former Cowgirl Creamery space. Guests will also get to wind their way up Highway One to enjoy lunch in Point Reyes Station at the original Cowgirl Creamery, where their famous Red Hawk cheese is produced using milk exclusively from Bivalve Dairy. Finally, attendees will get to tour Bivalve Dairy, overlooking Tomales Bay, and learn about their commitment to sustainable farming practices. As always, every tour allows guests to observe behind-the-scenes aspects of the farms and meet the hardworking farmers behind the state’s incredible artisan cheeses. Each tour includes round-trip transportation as well as cheese tastings and lunch. Cheese is also available for purchase at many of the farm stops.

The Farm and Producer Tours are always the first to sell out; for specific details including locations, timing, and to purchase tickets, please visit www.artisancheesefestival.com; $150; Friday, March 27 and Saturday, March 28.

Seminars and Pairing Demonstrations

Bringing attendees face-to-face with the experts who work with and create some of America’s best artisan cheeses, the Saturday seminars and pairing demonstrations tend to sell out early every year. Taking place at Santa Rosa’s historic and beautiful Flamingo Hotel Conference Resort & Spa; Relish Culinary Adventures in Healdsburg; and Kendall-Jackson Wine Estates & Gardens in Fulton, industry experts will engage and enlighten guests on a variety of topics, such as:

  • “Taste the Future: California’s Newest Cheesemakers,” an intriguing exploration of the state’s rich dairy history and a delectable introduction to the newest cheesemakers on the block with author and cheese expert Clark Wolf;
  • “Build Your Own Cheese Boards: Get Your Knives and Go!,” an interactive and informative lesson about how to build gorgeous, Instagram-ready cheese boards while sipping wine and sampling cheese with author and cheese board aficionado Laura Werlin;
  • “Cheers to Cheese,” kicks your cheese tasting up a notch by pairing local favorites with fine sparkling wines from California’s acclaimed Roederer Estate, with author, journalist and Planet Cheese publisher, Janet Fletcher and Roederer’s very own winemaker Arnaud Weyrich;
  • “Cheese and Cocktails: The Basics of Bitters, Booze & Cheese,” a flavorful lesson that teaches attendees why bitters and spirits aren’t just for happy hour. Vanessa Chang, ACS CCP and Lassa Skinner, Author and Co-Founder of Culture: the word on cheese, will distill the basics of the various spirits, demystify the universe of bitters, and help identify the cheese to round out cocktails like Manhattans, Mai Tais, and more;
  • Hands-On Cheesemaking: Mozzarella, Chèvre, Burrata,” this hands-on, three-hour class will teach attendees how to make three fresh cheeses while talking through the history of cheesemaking, important facts about milk quality and differences, as well as the complex biology and chemistry behind turning milk into tasty cheese curds and protein-rich whey.  This seminar will be taught by ACS Certified Cheese Professional and founder of FARMcurious, Nicole Easterday;
  • and “Cheese & Wine: Better Together,” a delicious and unique lesson about cheese’s favorite pairing partner with one of Sonoma County’s foremost cheese experts, Chef Tracey Shepos Cenami of Jackson Family Wines. Set at the picturesque Kendall-Jackson Wine Estates & Gardens, Chef Tracey will guide tasters through five cheese courses, pairing each with wines from Kendall-Jackson and her homemade, signature accompaniments. 

Seminars and Pairing Demonstrations to take place at the Flamingo Hotel in Santa Rosa, Relish Culinary Adventures in Healdsburg, and Kendall-Jackson Wine Estates & Gardens in Fulton. Tickets are from $75-$125. Seminar details, including price per seminar, location and start time may be found at www.artisancheesefestival.com

In the week leading up to the California Artisan Cheese Festival, cheese aficionados can expect to find special cheese-focused dishes and menus at some of their favorite local restaurants, tasting rooms, and businesses around the state for the second annual California Artisan Cheese Week. These businesses will be showing support for their favorite cheesemakers and guests will have the opportunity to enjoy their favorite standbys and discover new artisan cheeses in creative dishes, impressive cheese plates, special discounts, unique pairings and more. Specific details on participating restaurants and other businesses to be announced soon.

The Flamingo Hotel and a number of other Santa Rosa hotels are offering special discounted rates on rooms for Festival-goers. Links for discounted booking can be found here:  https://www.artisancheesefestival.com/lodging.

Generous sponsors of the Artisan Cheese Festival include American AgCredit, Cowgirl Creamery, Clover Sonoma, Creminelli Fine Meats, Culture Magazine, Cypress Grove, Dairy Connection Inc., Edible Marin & Wine Country, Exchange Bank, Flamingo Conference Resort and Spa, Formaticum, Jackson Family Wines, John Boos/Boos Boards, Lagunitas Brewing Co., Mike Hudson Distributing, Oliver’s Markets, Pennyroyal Farm, Qualtech, Real California Milk, Relish Culinary Adventures, REACH Air Medical Services, Rumiano Cheese Co., Rustic Bakery, Seismic Brewing Company, Sonoma County Tourism, Sonoma Jet Center, and Visit Santa Rosa/City of Santa Rosa.

About California Artisan Cheese Festival

A 501 (c)(3) non-profit organization, the California Artisan Cheese Festival strives to increase cheese appreciation, educate consumers about artisan cheeses, support the cheesemaking community and its sustainability and celebrate the creations of California’s many farmers and cheesemakers. The festival began in March 2007 as the first-ever, weekend-long celebration and exploration of handcrafted cheeses, foods, wines and beers from California. In keeping with its dedication to the community, the Artisan Cheese Festival has donated more than $135,000 in grants to nonprofit partners that support local sustainable agriculture including the California Artisan Cheese Guild.  For more information about the California Artisan Cheese Festival, visit http://www.artisancheesefestival.com/ or follow them on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

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