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Sonoma Valley Cheese Conference Begins Feb. 23

Hosted by Sheana Davis of Epicurean Connection, the event draws artisan cheese and beer producers and winemakers.

A rising group of new generation and urban cheesemakers will take the spotlight at the Tenth Annual Sonoma Valley Cheese Conference - an annual gathering of American artisan cheesemakers, retailers, distributors and food writers, on Feb. 23 – 28.

It's hosted by Sheana Davis of The Epicurean Connection. Davis is a chef, cheesemaker, caterer and culinary educator.

This year, the event will highlight a core group of young cheesemakers representing a new generation in the industry, according to Davis. In addition, the bright lights of the big city will take the spotlight with a presentation on urban cheesemaking in Seattle, Milwaukee and New York.

Conference festivities kick off a day early in San Francisco on 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 & Cheese Cook-off”  at Mac Arthur Place in Sonoma.

The next two days feature seminars and networking sessions at MacArthur Place and they wrap up with a special one-day ZingTrain session led by Ari Weinzweig of Zingerman's.

Event Details:

Saturday, Feb. 23: Cheese Plus Winter Artisan Cheese Fair. Cheese Plus in San Francisco invites the public to taste and purchase local cheeses and wines, from 1 to 4 p.m.

Sunday, Feb. 24: Sonoma Winter Artisan Cheese Fair. Both the public and conference attendees are invited to an opening reception and mac ‘n cheese cook-off to launch the Tenth Annual Sonoma Valley Cheese Conference. Location: MacArthur Place in Sonoma. Tickets: $40 (complimentary ticket included with full conference registration).

Monday, Feb. 25 – Tuesday, Feb. 26: Annual Sonoma Valley Cheese Conference. Wisconsin farmhouse cheesemakers Andy Hatch, Uplands Cheese; and Katie Hedrich, LaClare Farms, will join California cheesemakers Gabe Vella, Vella Cheese Company, and Carleen Weiruch, Weiruch Creamery to discuss new generation cheesemaking. In addition, Bob Wills, Clock Shadow Creamery in Milwaukee, and Kurt Dammeier, 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: Dan Gordon & Dean Beirsch, Gordon Biersch Founders, Sonoma;  Waldemar Albrecht, New York; 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;   Sondra Bernstien, the girl and the fig;  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.  Location: MacArthur Place, Sonoma. Tickets: $250, includes all sessions and lunches.

Wednesday, Feb. 27:  ZingTrain Session. Ari Weinzweig of Zingerman's will present 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. Location: MacArthur Place, Sonoma. Cost: $750 per person. Space is limited to 24 persons.

Thursday, Feb. 28:  ZingTrain Session. Ari Weinzweig of Zingerman's will present 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. Location: MacArthur Place, Sonoma. Cost: $750 per person. Space is limited to 24 people.
SOLD OUT, Hosted by Good Earth Market, Real Food Company & The Epicurean Connection.

To register, email Sheana Davis at sheana@vom.com or call 707- 935-7960. Visit  www.theepicureanconnection.com to learn more.

Sponsors include Beehive Cheese Company, Bi Rite Market & Creamery, California Artisan Cheese Guild, Carr Valley Cheese Company, Good Earth Market, Real Food Company, Rainbow Grocery Cooperative, Roelli Cheese Company, Wisconsin Cheese Originals, Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board.

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