Cheese Festival Adds Cheese Week for Cheese’s Sake

Get funky during the first annual California Artisan Cheese Week (March 16-24), which takes place in conjunction with the 13th Annual California Artisan Cheese Festival, March 23-24.  The spin-off of the year’s dairy-best fest features more than 30 restaurants, grocers and wineries offering up special cheese plates, tastings, pairings, and fromage-friendly dishes on their menus throughout the week. 

Among the restaurants, Mercato Pasta & Produce, which will have a special mac and cheese (630 Third St., Santa Rosa), Backyard in Forestville, Estero Cafe in Valley Ford and Girl & The Fig in Sonoma, Gravenstein Grill in Sebastopol and Kelly & Young Wines in Cloverdale.

(Want to sample the Sonoma County cheese scene at home? Here are some favorite cheeses from legendary cheesemonger Madame de Fromage)

The Cheese Festival is two full days of tours, pairings and demos culminating in the Cheese, Bites & Booze event at the Jackson Family Wines Hangar at the Sonoma Jet Center where cheesemakers, chefs and cheesemongers serve up the cream of the, well, cheese bites for attendees.

The Big Cheese event, however, is the Artisan Cheese Marketplace and Tasting where more than 100 cheese and food producers, winemakers, brewers, distillers, and chefs offer up nibbles and sips galore. The event takes place at Grace Pavillion at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds and tickets are $50 per person.