MORNING SESSION – 8:30 am to 3:30 pm
Behind-the-Scenes Cheese Country Farm Tours & Lunches
One of the most popular and coveted of events, the intimate Farm Tours are held at various local farms and creameries, giving visitors a glimpse into the important role of the farmer and where cheese gets its start. Guests can taste the differences between cow’s, sheep’s and goat’s milk cheeses, tour area farms, watch cheese being made and learn about how an animal’s diet affects a cheese’s flavor. We have included a lunch stop into each of the tours and transportation will be provided to and from the Sheraton Sonoma County – Petaluma. **Pack your boots and ice chest! Tours are rain or shine; no refunds will be given.
Farm Tour A: Kids, Calves, & More – SOLD OUT!
Pug’s Leap, McClelland’s Dairy, lunch and wine tasting at PW Scoggins Winery (Denman Creamery) and Mixed Milk seminar with Janet Fletcher, Rustic Bakery
Start your day at White Whale Farm with Anna Hancock, a former lawyer whose love of cheese and four-legged creatures led her to choose farm life over legal briefs. Anna and her team seasonally transform goat milk into award-winning Pug’s Leap farmstead cheeses, including 3 recent winners at the 2015 American Cheese Society conference. Hear Anna’s story and taste her lauded cheeses. The next stop is McClelland’s Dairy, an organic family-run farm with a history as rich as their delicious butter! Nestled in the rolling hills of Two Rock Valley, you’ll learn about the farm’s history and evolution, the ins-and outs of pasture management and what it takes to raise grass-fed dairy cows in Sonoma County. You’ll visit the nursery to see big-eyed baby calves and watch the grown-ups at their morning milking – you might even have the opportunity to milk a cow by hand! Then it’s off to the historic Denman Creamery and PW Scoggins Winery for lunch and a wine tasting. Following lunch, join James Beard-award winning author Janet Fletcher for a cheese tasting seminar. Mixed milk cheeses, those made from some combination of cow, goat, sheep, and water buffalo milk, have long been a mainstay in Europe, and are becoming more and more popular stateside. Learn about the historical and cultural context for these blended beauties, what each milk type contributes and taste some of the best local examples of this new trend. Finish your tour with a stop at Rustic Bakery, a temple of tasty treats – flatbreads and pan forte crostini perfect for the cheese course, cheese coins featuring cheeses from our California cheesemakers, shortbread cookies bursting with butter and more! (Ticket price is $135 per person)
Farm Tour B: Sonoma’s Specialties – SOLD OUT!
Two Rock Valley Goat Cheese, McClelland’s Dairy, lunch and Wine Tasting at PW Scoggins Winery (Denman Creamery) and Mixed Milk seminar with Janet Fletcher, Petaluma Hills Brewing with Achadinha Cheese Co.
What happens when a classic cow dairy gets pet goats?! Find out from Don and Bonnie DeBernardi at the DeBernardi Dairy and Creamery, the first stop on your tour. Home to dairy cows since 1968, 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. Next, head to McClelland’s Dairy, an organic family-run farm with a history as rich as their delicious butter! Nestled in the rolling hills of Two Rock Valley, you’ll learn about the farm’s history and evolution, the ins-and outs of pasture management and what it takes to raise grass-fed dairy cows in Sonoma County. You’ll visit the nursery to see big-eyed baby calves and watch the grown-ups at their morning milking – you might even have the opportunity to milk a cow by hand! Next, you’re off to the historic Denman Creamery and PW Scoggins Winery for lunch and a wine tasting. Following lunch, join James Beard-award winning author Janet Fletcher for a cheese tasting seminar. Mixed milk cheeses, those made from some combination of cow, goat, sheep, and water buffalo milk, have long been a mainstay in Europe, and are becoming more and more popular stateside. Learn about the historical and cultural context for these blended beauties, what each milk type contributes and taste some of the best local examples of this new trend. Wrap up your tour with a final stop at Petaluma Hills Brewing Company, founded by JJ Jay, an avid home brewer who decided to turn his passion into his profession. Taste his brews alongside cheese from Achadinha Cheese Company. (Ticket price is $135 per person)
Farm Tour C: Legends and Legacies – SOLD OUT!
Marin French Cheese Co., AppleGarden, seminar at the historic Dairymen’s Bank with Laura Werlin, lunch at Rocker Oysterfeller’s, Two Rock Valley Goat Cheese
Start your day with a taste of tradition. Marin French Cheese Company celebrated its 150th anniversary in 2015, making it the longest continuously operating cheese company in the US (and it’s located in our own backyard!) You’ll take a historical walking tour, enjoy the vistas of the Hicks Valley Ranch, and taste their signature cheeses. Head next to AppleGarden Farm in Tomales where you’ll 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!
Continue on to the historic Dairymen’s Bank in Valley Ford where you will be treated to an unprecedented seminar featuring three of California’s most heralded and important cheese legends: Mary Keehn of Cypress Grove Chevre, Jennifer Bice of Redwood Hill Farms, and Phillip Franco of Sierra Cheese Co. Led by James Beard award-winning author Laura Werlin, this esteemed panel will take you through the trials, tribulations, victories and successes that comprise their own cheese stories and with that, the story of California Cheese itself. And of course, you’ll get to taste each of their flagship cheeses along the way! Walk next door for a special lunch prepared by Chef Brandon at Rocker Oysterfeller’s before heading to the DeBernardi Dairy. While cows have been a mainstay on the DeBernardi Dairy since 1968, goats are a newer arrival. It didn’t take long for a hobby to turn into a second business. Paying homage to Don DeBernardi’s Swiss ancestry, the couple makes Two Rock Valley Goat Cheese, an aged tomme-style cheese, with milk from their own goats. We’re not kidding, it’s delicious! (Ticket price is $135 per person)
Farm Tour D: Sonoma’s Fertile Grounds – SOLD OUT!
Cheese & Coffee Seminar, Bohemian Creamery, Devoto Orchards for tasting and lunch with special guest Redwood Hill Farm, Freestone Artisan Cheese
Begin your tour with a buzz! JB Rumburg of Velo Fromage, Kathryn Allen of Hearth Coffee Roasters, and Sandra Loofbourow of Andytown Coffee Roasters, will kick off the morning with an educational seminar at the Sheraton, “3rd Wave Coffee and The Renaissance of the American Artisan Cheese Movement.” Explore the pairing principles behind different flavor profiles showcasing different local cheeses alongside a range of coffee varietals prepared in various methods. Fully caffeinated, you’ll board the bus and head over to Bohemian Creamery to meet Lisa Gottreich, one of the region’s most creative artisan cheesemakers. Just one mile outside of Sebastopol, Bohemian Creamery is perched on a hilltop overlooking the Laguna de Santa Rosa and the Mayacama mountains. Here you will find a little herd of Alpine dairy goats whose milk becomes farmstead cheese, whey soda, and even goat’s milk frozen yogurt! Head over to Devoto Orchards where second-generation apple farmer Jolie Devoto-Wade and her husband have made quite a name for themselves since releasing their first vintage of cider in 2012. Working with organic heirloom apples, including the local Gravenstein, they make three styles of cider each harvest. You’ll tour the picturesque farm, taste their estate cider as well as cheese from Redwood Hill Farm, and enjoy lunch on the grounds. Wrap up your tour with a stop at Freestone Artisan Cheese, where you will meet owner Omar Mueller. His cozy shop boasts a well-curated selection of California’s incredible agricultural bounty including local artisan cheeses, olive oils grown and pressed locally, and hot roasted nuts. Omar will surprise you with a guest cheesemaker appearance and tasting! If time allows, walk over to Wild Flower Bread Bakery to snag a coveted sourdough loaf from their wood fired brick oven! (Ticket price is $135 per person)
Farm Tour E: Preserving Tradition – SOLD OUT!
Barinaga Ranch, Marin French Cheese Co., MALTed Milk seminar and lunch at Straus Home Ranch, Nicasio Valley Cheese Co.
Start your tour at Marin French Cheese Company, the longest continuously operating cheese company in the US, which celebrated its 150th anniversary in 2015! You’ll take a historical walking tour, enjoy the vistas of the Hicks Valley Ranch, and taste their signature cheeses. Continue on to Barinaga Ranch, a sheep dairy in Marshall, at the height of lambing season. Don’t miss this opportunity to see those tiny pink noses! Owner Marcia Barinaga, a scientist turned cheesemaker, is beyond devoted to her animals and committed to raising them in a sustainable and environmentally friendly manner. She continues the shepherding and cheesemaking traditions of her Basque ancestors right here in Marin County. Meet her flock and taste her award-winning cheese. Drive down Highway 1 to Straus Home Ranch for lunch and an educational seminar. The Marin Agricultural Land Trust (MALT), a pioneering organization founded by Ellen Straus and Phyllis Farber to protect working farmland in Marin County, protects this beautiful property and two others on the tour. You’ll learn more about MALT’s influence on the local dairy landscape and a local cheesemaker and cheesemonger team will guide you through a tasting of cheeses made from “MALTed milk.” Finish your day with a trip to Nicasio Valley Cheese Company, an award-winning organic farmstead creamery and a MALT-protected ranch run by the Lafranchi family for 3 generations. (Ticket price is $135 per person)
Farm Tour F: The Land of Milk & Honey
Cowgirl Creamery, Heidrun Meadery, MALTed Milk seminar and lunch at Straus Home Ranch, McIssac & Son Dairy
Saddle up and start your tour in Pt. Reyes Station, where you will visit the original Cowgirl Creamery. In 1997, in a renovated hay barn, Sue Conley and Peggy Smith started making fresh cheeses with surplus organic milk from a West Marin Dairy. Nearly two decades later, the Cowgirls are still making delicious cheese (which you’ll taste) and supporting multiple local dairies. 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. Drive up the coast for lunch and learning at Straus Home Ranch. The Marin Agricultural Land Trust (MALT), a pioneering organization founded by Ellen Straus and Phyllis Farber to protect working farmland in Marin County, protects this beautiful property. You’ll learn more about MALT’s influence on the local dairy landscape and a local cheesemaker and cheesemonger team will guide you through a tasting of cheeses made from “MALTed milk.” Next, head to Neil McIssac & Son dairy ranch, a diversified organic dairy that’s been a MALT-protected ranch since 1991. The McIssac family sells their high-quality cow’s milk to Clover Stornetta and you’ll taste their latest line of yogurt. Learn about the changes they’ve brought to the farm to ready it for the next generation. (Ticket price is $135 per person)
Capitol Area Tour North
Pedrozo Dairy, Orland Farmstead Creamery, Sierra Nevada Cheese Co.
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 8:30 am 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 Pedrozos 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 the Glen County Country Club before continuing on to Sierra Nevada Cheese Company. Founded in 1997, Sierra Nevada Cheese Company continues to innovate and create new dairy products, made with their meticulously sourced local cow, goat, and sheep milk. Their panoply of cultured dairy offerings includes cheese, yogurt, butter, kefir and more! (Ticket price is $135 per person)
Capitol Area Tour South
Fiscalini Farmstead Cheese, Nicolau Farms, Nutcher Milk Company
PLEASE NOTE: This tour starts and ends at the Sacramento Natural Food Coop in Sacramento which is about 81 miles away from the Sheraton – Sonoma County, Petaluma.
Depart from the Sacramento Natural Food Coop at 8:30 am and head south into the San Joaquin Valley where you will visit Fiscalini Farms, home to Fiscalini Cheese Company in Modesto. Taste what happens when you combine fourth generation farm know-how, a very talented cheesemaker and farmstead raw cow milk. We’ll give you a hint…it’s arguably the best Cheddar in the West! Next, visit smaller hooved friends at Nicolau Farms, where goats rule the roost. Walter Nicolau III has a herd of Alpine, Saanen, and La Mancha goats whose “white gold” becomes fresh and aged farmstead cheeses. After touring the farm, you’ll taste cheese and enjoy a cheese-inspired lunch as well as a tasting with Nutcher Milk Company. MOOoove over chocolate milk, the Nutcher family makes flavored milk in a variety of seasonally-inspired flavors! (Ticket price is $135 per person)
EVENING SESSION – 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm
Cheesemongers’ Duel — The Best Bite, Sheraton Sonoma County, Petaluma
Warm up your taste buds for the weekend’s events as you meet our rock star cheesemongers in a light hearted competition showcasing CHEESE! More than two dozen mongers will take center stage as they are provided with a block, wedge or bowl of artisan cheese from one of our artisan cheesemakers and asked to create The Best Bite! Audience participation is a must! Artisan wines, beers and cider will also be available for sampling as will the “Fantasy Cheese Table” complete with local and rare cheeses at this not-to-be-missed party to kick off the weekend.
$50 per person.