To the delight of all California cheese lovers, the California Artisan Cheese Festival will return for its 12th year running. The festival, which stretches over a long weekend from March 23-25th, features local farm tours, tasting events, spirit pairings, and seminars from world-class cheese experts. The festival will take place in a new location this year: the Sonoma County Fairgrounds in Santa Rosa, and is expected to attract more than 2,500 guests, ranging from artisan cheese makers and California farmers to cheese enthusiasts, eager to expand their knowledge.
In a recent press release, Judy Groverman Walker, the festival's Executive Director said, “The California Artisan Cheese Festival has become one of the most anticipated annual events for cheese lovers and foodies in the San Francisco Bay Area and beyond. It’s thrilling to have grown the Festival to the point where it makes sense to move to the Santa Rosa County Fairgrounds, bringing thousands of excited visitors to a community recently devastated by wildfires. We’re partnering with local first responders as judges for the Best Bite competition. And, we’ll be able to accommodate larger crowds for the incredibly popular Marketplace. This year’s festival will no doubt be the best yet.”
On Friday, March 23rd, the festival opens with a series of intimate Artisan Tours, showing how the cheese is made and the role of the farmer in the process. Some of the cheesemakers participating include the following:
Following the tours, the first night of the festival will feature The Best Bite Competition, a cheese pairing competition in tribute to those who risked their lives as First Responders to California’s October 2017 fires.
Saturday will focus on educational events, including classes with writer and author Janet Fletcher; winemaker Arnaud Weyrich of Roederer Estate, California’s premier sparkling wine producer; renowned cheese expert Juliana Uruburu; Master Cicerone and Brewmaster Rich Higgins; American Cheese Society (ACS) Certified Cheese Professional® and seasoned specialty food aficionado Vanessa Chang; Cheese Twins Charlie and Michael Kalish; past judge of the International Cheese Awards, the World Cheese Awards, and the Global CheeseAwards Michael Landis; and Debra Dickerson; and Peggy Smith of Cowgirl Creamery. Saturday night will conclude with cheese and cocktails at Saralee and Richard’s Barn.
On Sunday, the festival's final day, early-risers are encouraged to return to Saralee and Richard’s Barn for a brunch with sparkling wine before the festival opens at noon for its grand finale. The finale will include more than 115 artisan produces, bring both classic and new cheese for tasting.