FRIDAY MARCH 24TH
Artisan Tours & Lunch
One of the most popular and coveted of events, the intimate Artisan Tours are held at various local farms, creameries and artisan purveyors, giving visitors a glimpse into the important role of the farmer and where cheese gets its start. Guests will be guided on walking tours where they can 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. The tours will feature an educational component, such as a discussion or tasting led by an industry expect providing insights and further exploration on a variety of topics about cheese. Bring your ice chest as cheese and artisan products are available for purchase on most tours. Tours are rain or shine and lunch and transportation by Pure Luxury Transportation is included. All tours depart from the Sheraton Sonoma County, in Petaluma except Tour G which departs from Nugget Market in Woodland, Ca.
Tours are $135 per person, 8:30 am to 3:30 pm, Various locations
A Taste of Tomales Bay
Cowgirl Creamery, Heidrun Meadery tour with guest Laura Chenel's, and lunch at Straus Home Ranch, Innovation Meets Tradition seminar with Waldemar Albrecht
Begin your morning with a stop at the original Cowgirl Creamery in downtown Point Reyes Station. You’ll visit the tiny creamery where the Cowgirls kicked off an artisan cheese revolution by transforming surplus organic milk into the award-winning cheeses. Learn why the ever-popular Red Hawk is still made exclusively in Point Reyes Station and about the importance of milk sourcing to the character and quality of Cowgirl’s cheeses. Next, toast this historic dairy town at Heidrun Meadery where you’ll taste different varieties of sparkling mead. Made from honey, mead owes its subtle and unique aromas to busy bees and blooming blossoms. Learn about bees, beekeeping, and the traditional Methode Champenoise that transforms this nectar into a delicate bottle of bubbly. Enjoy some perfect pairings with cheeses from Laura Chenel’s. Continue up Highway One to the historic Straus Home Ranch in Marshall for lunch and learning. Stroll the picturesque property and learn more about the Straus family’s deep roots in local agriculture and the family matriarch’s role in co-founding the Marin Agricultural Land Trust (MALT), a pioneering organization that preserves working farmland in Marin. Wrap up your afternoon with the inimitable Waldemar Albrecht, of Cheese Plus, for a guided cheese tasting exploring the relationship between innovation and tradition. Taste local California cheeses alongside the European cheeses that inspired their creation while discussing differences in terroir, craftsmanship, and animal husbandry methods.
Marin French Cheese, Nicasio Valley Cheese Co., tour and lunch at Straus Home Ranch, Innovation Meets Tradition seminar with Waldemar Albrecht
Start your day with a taste of tradition at Marin French Cheese. Known by locals as “The Cheese Factory,” Marin French Cheese is the country’s oldest continuously operating cheese company and celebrates its 152-year anniversary in 2017. Take a historical walking tour, enjoy the vistas of the Hicks Valley and the surrounding lush landscape, and taste their signature cheeses, including Brie and Camembert. Continue the journey of local dairy tradition with the Lafranchi family at Nicasio Valley Cheese Company. Third generation dairy farmers, the Lafranchis have been ranching in Nicasio since 1919, and began crafting farmstead cheese with organic milk from their herd of Holsteins in 2010. Tour their beautiful pastures, visit the creamery, and taste the cheeses that capture the legacy of this 1,150-acre family ranch. Next, you’ll travel to the historic Straus Home Ranch in Marshall for lunch and learning. Stroll the picturesque property and learn more about the Straus family’s deep roots in local agriculture and the family matriarch’s role in co-founding the Marin Agricultural Land Trust (MALT), a pioneering organization that preserves working farmland in Marin. Wrap up your afternoon with the inimitable Waldemar Albrecht, of Cheese Plus, for a guided cheese tasting exploring the relationship between innovation and tradition. Taste local California cheeses alongside the European cheeses that inspired their creation while discussing differences in terroir, craftsmanship, and animal husbandry methods.
FARM TO THE FORK
Point Reyes Farmstead & The Fork with guest Fiscalini Cheese Company, Lunch and Cooking Demo with Chef Proprietors Stuart Brioza and Nicole Krasinski of State Bird Provisions
What’s the secret to a successful dairy business that lures four daughters back to the farm? Spend your day at the picturesque Giacomini Dairy to find out! Since 1959, these beautiful pastures have been home to a working dairy producing the highest quality Holstein milk. Surrounded by rolling green pastures, you’ll start your day with a strolling tour of the farm, meet the cows in their closed herd and learn about the history of the family, the farm, and agriculture in the region. Head inside to The Fork, Point Reyes Farmstead’s on-farm educational and culinary center, for a focused cheese tasting with Point Reyes Farmstead and guest cheesemaker Fiscalini Cheese Company. Like the Giacomini’s, the Fiscalini family has deep dairy roots in California that inspired a more recent foray into artisan cheesemaking. With these two legendary families, you’ll learn to taste cheese like a pro and how factors like make process and seasonality influence the development of cheese. Finally, you’ll enjoy a leisurely three-course lunch and cooking demo with celebrity guest chefs and proprietors of State Bird Provisions, Stuart Brioza and Nicole Krasinski featuring cheeses from both Fiscalini and Point Reyes Farmstead specially paired with local libations.
The Language of Cheese seminar with Janet Fletcher, Neil McIssac & Sons Dairy, Lunch at Estero Café with Valley Ford Cheese, AppleGarden Farm, Two Rock Valley Goat Cheese
What’s the lingua franca of queso? James Beard award-winning author and educator Janet Fletcher will teach you “The Language of Cheese,” and help you develop a vocabulary for cheese in all its sensory aspects. You’ll have plenty of time to practice your new language skills over the next couple of days! Continue on to Neil McIssac & Son dairy ranch, a fifth generation Marin dairy protected as working farmland by the Marin Agricultural Land Trust since 1991. The McIssac family sells their high-quality cows milk to Clover Stornetta, though their farm operations have diversified to include more than dairy. Learn about the changes they’ve brought to the farm with an eye on sustaining the next generation. Next, head to the Estero Café where you’ll enjoy a delicious farm to table lunch prepared by husband and wife team Ryan and Samantha Ramey using locally sourced ingredients and featuring cheeses from Valley Ford Cheese. Meet Karen Bianchi-Moreda, a fourth generation dairywoman and the energetic founder of Valley Ford Cheese, and learn more about her quest to recreate the cheese she enjoyed at her grandparents’ table as a child. Cap off your tour with a stop at AppleGarden Farm in Tomales. Meet owner Jan Lee, who transformed former grazing land into an orchard and reminds us that farmstead isn’t a term reserved exclusively for cheese. Tour the farm, learn about cider apple selection, dry farming, and taste the fruits of the Lees’ labor!
At your final stop, you’ll learn what happens when a classic cow dairy gets pet goats from Don and Bonnie DeBernardi at the DeBernardi Dairy and home of Two Rock Valley Goat Cheese. Home to dairy cows for nearly 50 years, the goats are a more recent addition to the family ranch, arriving in the late 1990s. Spring is “kidding” season and you’ll meet the newest floppy-eared additions to the farm. Taste Two Rock Goat Cheese, the aged tomme-style cheese made by Don, a tribute to his Swiss ancestry.
Achadinha Cheese Co., Lunch and Wine & Cheese Seminar with Kirstin Jackson at the Petaluma Hotel, Marin French Cheese, Sonoma Portworks and Cypress Grove
Rise and shine! Start your morning with the Pacheco family, proprietors of Achadinha Cheese Company and the Pacheco Family Dairy. On nearly 300 acres in Petaluma, Jim and Donna Pacheco, with help from their four children, milk goats and make cheese inspired by family legacy and the Old World traditions of Portugal. You will tour the farm, learn why the Pachecos transitioned from a traditional cow dairy to a goat dairy, meet the “girls”, and taste their farmstead cheeses. Then you are off to the historic Petaluma Hotel for lunch and to continue your exploration of local flavors with Kirstin Jackson, educator and author of “It’s Not You, It’s Brie.” Kirstin will walk you through a tasting seminar that pairs local cheeses and the local wines that love them. Learn the ins and outs of pairing from a pro while celebrating the region’s bounty. Next, head to Marin French Cheese for a real taste of local history. Marin French Cheese has been making cheese since 1865, making it the oldest continuously operating creamery in the United States. Take a historical walking tour, enjoy the vistas of the Hicks Valley and the surrounding green hills, and taste their signature cheeses, including Brie and Camembert. Finish your day on a sweet note with Bill and Caryn Reading at Sonoma Portworks, the only winery in Sonoma County that specializes in fortified wines. Taste their unique ports alongside cheeses from Cypress Grove.
The Pride of Petaluma
The Language of Cheese seminar with Janet Fletcher, Rustic Bakery, Achadinha Cheese Co., lunch at Lagunitas, and Sonoma Coast Spirits with guest CHEVOO
Rich and buttery are common words to describe cheese, but the flavors in cheese are too nuanced and complex to be reduced to two words. James Beard award-winning author and educator Janet Fletcher will teach you “The Language of Cheese,” and help you develop a vocabulary for cheese in all its sensory aspects. You’ll have plenty of time to practice your new language skills over the next couple of days! Following the seminar, you’ll head to Rustic Bakery, a local temple of tasty treats. Their flatbreads and pan forte crostini are perfect for every cheese course and their buttery cheese coins feature cheeses from our California cheesemakers. If you thought wine was cheese’s perfect pairing partner, think again. Next, head into the green hills of Petaluma where Achadinha Cheese Company is nestled on nearly 300 acres. Jim and Donna Pacheco, with help from their four children, milk goats and make cheese inspired by family legacy and the Old World traditions of Portugal. Tour the farm and meet the “girls”, learn more about why the Pachecos transitioned from a traditional cow dairy, and taste their farmstead cheeses. Then you are off to enjoy a cheese-inspired lunch and brewery tour at hometown favorite Lagunitas Brewing while learning more about the hops and malts that make their local beers unique. Finally, visit and taste with local distillers Jill and Doug Olson of Sonoma Coast Spirits. Born into a winemaking family in St. Helena, Jill has long had a creative streak and an exceptional garden. An early love of canning turned into the grown-up pursuit of cocktails, and since 2011, she has creatively spun the bounty of the local harvest into their signature fruit-driven spirits. Cheesemaker CHEVOO will join in the fun and take this cocktail hour to the next level!
North Capitol Area Tour
Pedrozo Dairy, Orland Farmstead Creamery, Lunch at The Coffee House at Salvagno’s with Rumiano Cheese and Chico Honey Company
PLEASE NOTE: This tour starts and ends at Nugget Market in Woodland which is about 75 miles away from the Sheraton – Sonoma County, Petaluma.
Meet your tour at Nugget Market in Woodland before heading north to explore the cheesescape of the North Sacramento Valley. First, you’ll head to Pedrozo Dairy and Cheese Company, where you’ll meet Tim Pedrozo, a third generation dairy farmer and self-proclaimed “accidental cheesemaker.” Since 1996, the Pedrozo’s have been milking a small blended herd of Holstein, Jersey, and Milking Shorthorn cows on their 20-acre farm in Orland and two years later began transforming that milk into a diverse range of farmstead cheese. Next, you’ll head to Orland Farmstead Creamery. Owner Paul Schmidt’s passion for farm life started early - he raised and showed cows through 4-H while still in elementary school. Over thirty years after founding his own dairy, he fulfilled his lifelong dream of making farmstead cheese. Orland Farmstead Creamery focuses on fresh cheeses that highlight the quality of milk from their grass-fed cows. Stop for lunch at Salvagno’s Coffee House and Eatery and meet Owen Rumiano of Rumiano Cheese Company, California’s oldest family-owned cheese company. Owen, a fourth-generation contributor to the family business, will talk about how the creamery has evolved and changed over the years and sample a selection of their cheeses. End your afternoon on a sweet note with a honey tasting from Chico Honey Company. Learn more about bees, beekeeping, and what makes their honey so darn good.
THE ULTIMATE BEST BITE
$75 per person
6:00 pm to 9:00 pm
The Big Top at the Sheraton Sonoma County
Cheesemakers, Chefs and Cheesemongers share the stage on Friday night under the Big Top with a light-hearted yet energetic competition to see who can create the best bite using California artisan cheese. Each cheesemaker is paired with both a cheesemonger and chef who will each create a delectable bite featuring their cheesemaker’s cheeses. This interactive, yet fun night of great bites encourages everyone to taste and vote for their favorite cheese combination while enjoying sips of artisan wine, cider and beer. Bring your appetite to this not to miss event which will showcase over two dozen cheesemakers, two dozen chefs and two dozen mongers.