SONOMA, Calif. – Registration is now open for the Ninth Annual Sonoma Valley Cheese Conference – an annual gathering of American artisan cheesemakers, buyers and food writers from Feb. 25 – 29, in Sonoma, Calif.
Hosted by Sheana Davis, of The Epicurean Connection in Sonoma, Calif., the highly-respected conference is a premier destination for cheese industry opinion leaders from across the nation, and this year, honors the memory of Cheesemaker Ig Vella, a Sonoma native who traditionally opened the conference with words of wisdom.
Festivities kick off a day early in San Francisco on Saturday, Feb. 25, with Cheese Plus hosting a Winter Artisan Cheese Fair from 1 to 4 p.m. The event showcases cheesemakers leading the artisan and farmstead cheese movement, as well as wines and ales from Sonoma County. That evening, a beer and cheese tasting takes place at Rogue Public Ale House. Both events are open to the public, with tickets available at the door. The conference proper begins Sunday, Feb. 26 with an afternoon Sonoma Winter Artisan Cheese Fair, featuring artisan cow, sheep and goat cheese producers, wines, brews, guest chefs and a “Winter Mac & Cheese Cook-off” at The Mac Arthur Place in Sonoma. The next two days feature seminars and networking sessions at the MacArthur Place in Sonoma, and wraps up with a special one-day ZingTrain session led by Ari Weinzweig of Zingerman’s.
• Saturday, Feb. 25: Cheese Plus Winter Afternoon Artisan Cheese Fair in San Francisco. From 1 to 4 p.m., Cheese Plus, 2001 Polk Street, invites the public to taste and purchase local cheeses and wines.
• Saturday Feb. 25: Rogue Pubic Ale House Evening Cheese & Beer Tasting in San Francisco. From 6 to 8 p.m., Rogue Public Ale House Cheese, 673 Union Street, hosts a beer and cheese tasting, with tables sponsored by Bi Rite Market, Canyon Market, Organic Valley, Rainbow Grocery Co-op and the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board. Tickets are $40 and available at the door or via registration.
• Sunday, Feb. 26: Sonoma Winter Artisan Cheese Fair. From 1 to 4 p.m., both the public and conference attendees are invited to an opening artisan food fair in at the MacArthur Place in Sonoma to celebrate the kick-off of the Ninth Annual Sonoma Valley Cheese Conference. Tickets are $40 at the door, with a complimentary ticket included with full conference registration. New this year, a mac n’ cheese cook-off, sponsored by Organic Valley, will feature 10 chefs dueling for the best dish. The fair also features dozens of wineries, breweries and cheesemakers, all sampling and selling product. Attendees can look forward to the Second Annual Cheese Rolling Event, where local celebrities and attendees will vie for prizes. Cheese author Janet Fletcher also hosts an afternoon cheese tasting.
• Monday, Feb. 27 – Tuesday, Feb. 28: Annual Sonoma Valley Cheese Conference. This year’s conference features a stunning line-up of speakers and seminars, including a keynote opening address from Glenda Humiston, USDA Rural Development State Director. Keynote sessions include the “Leading Ladies of Chevre” with Allison Hooper, Vermont Butter & Cheese Creamery; Jennifer Bice, Redwood Hill Farm, and Jacquelyn Buchanan, Laura Chenel Chevre, moderated by Sheana Davis. Another panel features “Dairy Farmers’ Daughters” with Jana McClelland, McClelland’s Dairy; Lynn Stray, Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese; Vivien Straus, Straus Farm, and Karen Bianchi Moreda, Valley Ford.
Additional sessions include a “Cheese Community Leaders” panel led by Ari Weinzweig, Zingerman’s, a “Wisconsin Artisan Cheese & Brew” session featuring Wisconsin cheesemakers Sid Cook and Chris Roelli; as well as Jeanne Carpenter, Wisconsin Cheese Originals; and Marilyn Wilkinson, Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board. A “Beyond Your Cheese Counter” session with national retailers and a “Protecting your Cheese” session with tips from attorney Richard Idell are also scheduled.
Additional guest speakers during the conference include: Valerie Brown, Sonoma Supervisor; Judy Creighton, Consultant; Seana Doughty, Bleating Heart Cheese; Brad Dube, Food Matters Again; Gordon Edgar, Rainbow Grocery Cooperative; Janet Fletcher, Food Writer, Laurie Gallian, Sonoma Mayor; Steve Giambalvo, Cheese Works West; Rick Lafranchi, Nicasio Valley Cheese; Tom Scott, Oliver’s Market; Richard Sutton, St. James Cheese Shop; Anthea Stolz, Bi Rite Market; Aubrey Thomason, Zingerman’s Cheesemaker, and Anna Wolfe, Gourmet Retailer.
Generous time and space are available for talking with other participants during breaks and lunches. The conference offers an invaluable opportunity to learn as well as sharing knowledge, challenges and solutions. All seminars are held at the MacArthur Place in Sonoma, with tickets priced at $250, which includes all sessions and lunches during the two-day period.
• Wednesday, Feb. 29: ZingTrain Session. Ari Weinzweig of Zingerman’s presents a dynamic, small-group session guaranteed to get participants thinking about running their organizations in new ways that help increase job satisfaction, reduce the burden on managers, cut back bureaucracy and build better bottom-line results to outperform competitors. The session is priced at $600 per person and takes place at the MacArthur Place in Sonoma. Space is limited, so register early.
The Ninth Annual Sonoma Valley Cheese Conference thanks this year’s sponsors: Bi Rite Market & Creamery, Canyon Market, California Artisan Cheese Guild, Carr Valley Cheese Company, Cheese Market News, Cheese Plus, Cheese Underground, Culture, Delice de la Vallee, Food Matters Again, Laura Chenel Chevre, Oliver’s Market, Organic Valley, Roelli Cheese, Redwood Hill Farm & Creamery, Rogue Ales, The Epicurean Connection, Tony’s Fine Foods, Vermont Butter and Cheese Creamery, Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board, Wisconsin Cheese Originals and Zingerman’s Family of Businesses.
Sheana Davis—chef, cheesemaker, caterer, culinary educator, and owner of the The Epicurean Connection Shop in Sonoma, California—has been enthusiastically supporting the artisan and farmstead cheese movement for 20 years. Her Ninth Annual Sonoma Valley Cheese Conference, drawing industry leaders from across the United States, is scheduled for Feb 25-29 in Sonoma, California. www.theepicureanconnection.com
Source: Sonoma Valley Cheese Conference