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13th Annual California Artisan Cheese Festival Announces Participants For Two New Events: Cheese, Bites & Booze! and California Artisan Cheese Week

Events feature cheesemakers, chefs, restaurants, wineries, breweries and craft distilleries from throughout California

SANTA ROSA, Calif.—February 21, 2019—California’s premier cheese event, the California Artisan Cheese Festival, is pleased to announce the participants and details for two of its newest events: Cheese, Bites & Booze! on Saturday, March 23, and California Artisan Cheese Week, taking place March 16 – 24. Each event offers a unique opportunity to experience new and limited-production artisan cheeses incorporated into dishes and bites made by chefs from Sonoma and Marin Counties and the greater Bay Area. Cheese, Bites & Booze!, a competition and artisan cheese, wine, beer, cocktail and spirits tasting, will take place at the Jackson Family Wines Airplane Hangar, a new location for this year’s festival, while California Artisan Cheese Week will take place at a host of restaurants, wineries, grocers, and businesses in Santa Rosa and the greater Bay Area. 

Cheese, Bites & Booze!
6 to 9 p.m.
Jackson Family Wines Hangar at the Sonoma Jet Center 
5900 Flightline Drive, Santa Rosa 
$80 per person; 21and over only, no children will be admitted.

After a day filled with educational seminars and tours, a can’t-miss event is Saturday night’s grand tasting event held inside the Jackson Family Wines Airplane Hangar at the Sonoma Jet Center located at the Sonoma County Airport. This delicious competition features legendary cheesemakers, cheesemongers, and chefs collaborating to create their “best bites” of California’s artisan cheesy goodness. With live music by Solorio playing throughout the evening, guests can sample delectable creations while sipping on regional artisan wines, ciders, spirits, and beers at this truly unique one-of-a-kind walk-around tasting event. 

Attendees can get in on the action by casting their vote for their favorite bite in the People’s Choice Awards for Cheesemongers and Chefs, and then see how their vote compares to the judges’ selections in the same categories. Reigning winner John Ash & Co. is back to reclaim its titles for Judges’ Choice - Chef which the restaurant won at last year’s event, and the People’s Choice - Chef award, which it won in 2017.

Winners of the Judges’ Choice - Cheesemonger award will receive a coveted prize including a tour for six to two or more Sonoma and Marin County creameries, a personalized meet & greet with the cheesemakers and/or owners, and an exclusive cheese tasting and lunch. Other awards for People’s and Judges’ Choice winners include prizes of Santoku knives from Tahoe Kitchen, Boos Board cutting boards, and cash prizes.

Participating cheesemakers and chefs include Beehive Cheese Company, Bellwether Farms, Central Coast Creamery, Chef Jodie Rubin, Cookie…take a bite!, Costeaux French Bakery, Cowgirl Creamery, Crumb Hither, Cypress Grove Cheese Co., Fiscalini Cheese Co., Goose & Gander, Jimtown Store, John Ash & Co., Korbel Delicatessen & Market, Laura Chenel’s, Marin French Cheese Co., Mercato Pasta & Produce, Moonside Creamery, Nicasio Valley Cheese Co., Nick’s Cove, Nicolau Farms, Pacific Market,
Peacock Gap Golf Club, Pedrozo Dairy and Cheese Co., Pennyroyal Farm, Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese Company, Railroad Stop Bar & Kitchen, Rumiano Cheese Co., Sally Tomatoes, Sierra Nevada Cheese Co., Stuyt Dairy Farmstead Cheese Co., The Gables Wine Country Inn, the girl and the fig, Tips Roadside, Tomales Farmstead Creamery, Two Rock Valley Goat Cheese, Valley Ford Cheese & Creamery, and Wm. Cofield Cheesemakers.

Participating beer, wine and spirits producers include AppleGarden Farm, Ace Cider, Alley 6 Craft Distillery, Black Kite Cellars, Boochcraft High-Alcohol Kombucha, Gondak Cellars, Gordian Knot Winery, Jaxon Keys Winery & Distillery, Joseph Jewell Wines, Kelley & Young Wines, Kokomo Winery, Korbel Champagne Cellars, Lagunitas Brewing Company, Little Apple Treats, Merriam Vineyards, Monarch Bitters, Pampelonne Sparkling Wine Cocktails, Paul Mathew Vineyards, Rabbit’s Food Meadery/Red Branch Cider Company, Russian River Brewing Company, Seismic Brewing Company, Sonoma Coast Spirits, Sonoma Portworks, Spire Collection, Stringer Cellars, Tipp Rambler, and Young & Yonder Spirits.

California Artisan Cheese Week 
March 16 – 24
Various restaurants, winery tasting rooms, independent grocers and businesses throughout the Bay Area

This inaugural event, taking place the week leading up to the festival, allows diners and patrons to enjoy favorite cheeses and discover new ones through a host of offerings including special cheese-inspired menus and dishes, cheese plates, tastings, pairings, discounts, and more.

Numerous restaurants and businesses in Sonoma and Marin Counties and the greater Bay Area are participating in California Artisan Cheese Week including, but not limited to: Backyard Forestville, Beer Baron Bar & Kitchen, Big John’s Market, Bollywood Bar & Clay Oven, Costeaux French Bakery, Flamingo Conference Resort & Spa, Franchettis’, Goose & Gander, Jimtown Store, Joseph Jewell Wines, Kelley & Young Wines, Korbel Delicatessen & Market, Molsberry Market, Nick’s Cove, Oliver’s Market, Palio, Paul Mathew Vineyards, Petaluma Market, Petaluma Pie, Sonoma Portworks, The Gables Wine Country Inn, the girl and the fig, Tips Roadside, Wilibees Wine & Spirits, zazu kitchen + farm and Zoftig Eatery.

Beyond Cheese, Bites & Booze! and California Artisan Cheese Week, the two-day festival includes seminars, cheese tastings, pairings, farm and producer tours, a Bubbles Brunch and Marketplace event, all of which are held at various locations in Northern California March 23-24, 2019. Tickets for the various events range from $25 to $150 per person and are available for purchase now by visiting, www.artisancheesefestival.com. Please note all ticket sales are final and all events will take place rain or shine.

Generous sponsors of the California Artisan Cheese Festival include American AgCredit, Beehive Cheese Company, Bellwether Farms, Central Coast Creamery, Clover Sonoma, Cowgirl Creamery, Culture Magazine, Cypress Grove, Dairy Connection/GetCulture, Donald and Maureen Green Foundation, Edible East Bay, Edible Marin & Wine Country, Ellipses Public Relations, Exchange Bank, Fiscalini Cheese Co., Flamingo Conference Resort & Spa, Formaticum, Fromagex, Jackson Family Wines, John Boos/Boos Boards, Lagunitas Brewing Company, Laura Chenel’s, Marin French Cheese Co., Mike Hudson Distributing, Nicasio Valley Cheese Co., Oliver’s Markets, Pennyroyal Farm, Pisenti & Brinker LLP, Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese Company, Pure Luxury Transportation, Qualtech, Real California Milk, Rumiano Cheese Company, Rustic Bakery, Seismic Brewing Company, Sierra Nevada Cheese Company, Sonoma County Tourism, Sonoma Jet Center, Tahoe Kitchen Co., Tomales Farmstead, Tony’s Fine Foods, Valley Ford Cheese & Creamery, and Visit Santa Rosa.

About California Artisan Cheese Festival
A 501 (c)(3) non-profit organization, the California Artisan Cheese Festival strives to increase cheese appreciation, educate consumers about artisan cheeses, support the cheesemaking community and its sustainability and celebrate the creations of California’s many farmers and cheesemakers. The festival began in March 2007 as the first-ever, weekend-long celebration and exploration of handcrafted cheeses, foods, wines and beers from California and beyond. In keeping with its dedication to the community, the Artisan Cheese Festival has donated more than $120,000 in grants to local nonprofit partners that support local sustainable agriculture including the California Artisan Cheese Guild, Sonoma Land Trust, Marin Agricultural Land Trust (MALT), the Redwood Empire Food Bank and the Petaluma Chapter of the Future Farmers of America. For more information about the California Artisan Cheese Festival, visit www.artisancheesefestival.comor follow them on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Photos and captions:
Photo 1: Pastry Chef Casey Stone from John Ash & Co. with his “Best Bites” (credit photographer Steve Knudsen)
Photo 2: Selection of "Best Bites" (credit Steve Knudsen)
Photo 3: Cheese, Bites & Booze! (credit Derrick Story)
Photo 4: Cheese & grapes from the California Artisan Cheese Festival (credit Kelly J. Owen)