Cheese Conference marks 10th year
THE ANNUAL Sonoma Valley Cheese Conference is a cheese-lover’s paradise, with four days of cheese-based events, classes and demonstrations.
A rising group of new generation and urban cheesemakers take the spotlight at the 10th annual Sonoma Valley Cheese Conference – an annual gathering of American artisan cheesemakers, retailers, distributors and food writers, which runs from Feb. 23 to 27, in Sonoma.
Hosted by Sheana Davis of The Epicurean Connection, the conference is a premier destination for cheese industry opinion leaders from across the nation. This year, the event will highlight a core group of young cheesemakers representing a new generation in the industry. In addition, the bright lights of the big city will shine with a presentation on urban cheesemaking in Seattle, Milwaukee and New York.
Conference festivities kick off a day early in San Francisco on Saturday, Feb. 23, with Cheese Plus hosting a public 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.
The conference proper begins Sunday, Feb. 24, with an afternoon Winter Artisan Cheese Fair, featuring artisan cow, sheep and goat cheese producers, wines, brews, guest chefs and a “Winter Mac ‘n’ Cheese Cook-off” at MacArthur Place in Sonoma. Tickets are $40, or included with the full conference registration price.
The next two days feature seminars and networking sessions at MacArthur Place. Wisconsin farmhouse cheesemakers Andy Hatch of Uplands Cheese and Katie Hedrich of LaClare Farms will join California cheesemakers Gabe Vella of Vella Cheese Company and Carleen Weiruch of Weiruch Creamery to discuss new generation cheesemaking. In addition, Bob Wills of Clock Shadow Creamery in Milwaukee and Kurt Dammeier from Beecher’s Handmade Cheese in Seattle and New York City will talk city life cheesemaking.
On both days of the conference, an array of additional topics will be presented. Speakers include: Waldemar Albrecht; Ray Bair, Cheese Plus; Jeanne Carpenter, Wisconsin Cheese Originals; Judy Creighton, California Artisan Cheese Guild; Sid Cook, Carr Valley Cheese; Brad Dube, Food Matters Again; Gordon Edgar, Rainbow Grocery Cooperative; Janet Fletcher, food writer; Glenda Humiston, USDA; Brian Hunt, Moonlight Brewing Company; Denice Jones, Moylan’s Brewing Company; Hans Kunisch, Greenleaf; Chris Roelli, Roelli Cheese; J.B. Rumberg, Other Avenues Food Store; Alissa Shethar, North Bay Cheese; Lynn Stray, Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese; Ari Weinzweig, Zingerman’s; Marilyn Wilkinson and Heather Porter Engwall, Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board; 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. Tickets for the entire conference are $250, including all sessions and lunches.