Friday, March 21, 2014

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, goat’s and even water buffalo’s milk cheeses, tour area farms, watch cheese being made and learn about how an animal’s diet affects a cheese’s flavor.  Lunch and transportation by Pure Luxury Transportation to and from the Sheraton are included.  **Pack your boots and ice chest! Tours are rain or shine; no refunds will be given.

This year’s tours are as follows:

Farm Tour A **SOLD OUT** – The Fork Meets the Spoon(bar)  –  Nicasio Valley Cheese Company; Pt. Reyes Farmstead Cheese Co. and lunch at The Fork with Chef Louis Maldonado of Spoonbar; Heidrun Meadery; Beehive Cheese Co.

Don’t miss this special cheese lover’s culinary expedition winding through the beautiful rolling hills of Petaluma, western Marin County and Pt. Reyes. Your day starts with a tour and tasting at Nicasio Valley Cheese Company and LaFranchi Ranch, the 1,150 acre organically certified dairy farm continuously operated for 90 years, now run by the third generation of the LaFranchi Family. Experience the exquisite, award winning soft ripened cheeses that have put the LaFranchis on the “must taste” list of California artisan cheeses. Next it’s back on the bus for the short drive to Point Reyes Station where we will meet the Giacomini Family of Pt. Reyes Farmstead Cheese Company. You will tour their dairy farm and learn how they made the transition from contract dairy to award winning farmstead cheese producer. Lunch at The Fork, the farm’s state of the art event space, begins with a cheese tasting of the Pt. Reyes award winning cheeses followed with a multi-course cheese focused lunch prepared by recent Top Chef contestant and executive chef of Spoonbar in Healdsburg, Louis Maldanado. During the lunch, your hosts will provide commentary on the pairings and field questions about cheesemaking and product development. As you head back to the Sheraton, enjoy a final stop in Point Reyes at Heidrun Meadery where they produce naturally sparkling varietal meads (yes, made from honey) using the traditional French Méthode Champenoise. Their trademark Champagne-style mead is light, dry, delicate and refreshing, and will be paired with cheeses from Beehive Cheese Co. This tour will undoubtedly be a special day for any cheese lover! $135.00 per person.

Farm Tour B **SOLD OUT** – Cowgirls, Bees and Fork Meets Spoon(bar)  –  Cowgirl Creamery; Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese Co. and lunch at The Fork with Chef Louis Maldonado of Spoonbar; Heidrun Meadery; Beehive Cheese Co.

Board the bus and drive through the rolling green hills of Sonoma and Marin Counties. Once you arrive in Point Reyes Station your first stop is at the world famous Cowgirl Creamery. Take a guided tour of their original creamery and hear how the Cowgirls, Peg Smith and Sue Conley, achieved rock star status in the cheese world and how they continue to make history. Next it’s back on the bus for the short drive to Point Reyes Station where we will meet the Giacomini Family of Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese Company. You will tour their dairy farm and learn how they made the transition from contract dairy to award winning farmstead cheese producer. Lunch at The Fork, the farm’s state of the art event space, begins with a cheese tasting of the Pt. Reyes award winning cheeses followed with a multi-course cheese focused lunch prepared by recent Top Chef contestant and executive chef of Spoonbar in Healdsburg, Louis Maldanado. During the lunch, your hosts will provide commentary on the pairings and field questions about cheesemaking and product development. As you head back to the Sheraton, enjoy a final stop in Point. Reyes at Heidrun Meadery where they produce naturally sparkling varietal meads (yes, made from honey) using the traditional French Méthode Champenoise. Their trademark Champagne-style mead is light, dry, delicate and refreshing, and will be paired with cheeses from Beehive Cheese Co. This tour is sure to be a favorite for any cheeselover.   $135.00 per person

Farm Tour C **SOLD OUT** – Buffalo Cheese, Jersey Cheese, and Goat Cheese – Hurrah!  –  Ramini Buffalo Cheese Company; Valley Ford Cheese Company; Two Rock Valley Goat Cheese Company

Early Spring is a beautiful time to visit the tender green pastures of our California cheese makers. Pull on your boots and get ready to spend the day out in the fields meeting the glorious four legged creatures – and two legged talents – that produce our world famous artisan cheese! Your first stop is the Ramini Buffalo Cheese Company.  In their second year of production, Craig Ramini produces fresh handcrafted mozzarella cheese worthy of comparison to the best Italian mozzarella di bufala. Next stop is a short bus ride to the Valley Ford Cheese Company, a 640 acre Jersey dairy farm continuously milking since 1918. Overlooking the unique waters and wetlands of the Estero Americano in Valley Ford, its lush, rolling pastures have been home to five generations of the Bianchi/Grossi families, practicing sustainable agriculture just as their ancestors did in the Ticino district on the Swiss-Italian border. The tour will conclude with a special visit to the Two Rock Valley Goat Cheese Company where you will meet Dairyman Don DeBernardi and his wife Bonnie, along with the newborn “kids” at their family run dairy and farmstead creamery.  This tour will have a delicious boxed lunch to be enjoyed out on the farm.  What a wonderful day in cheese land! $75.00 per person

Farm Tour D **SOLD OUT** – Goats, Sheep & ZaZu, Oh MY!  —  Bleating Heart Cheese; Tomales Farmstead Creamery; ZaZu Kitchen & Farm; Bohemian Creamery

There is no better way to start the day than with a  scenic drive through western Sonoma and northern Marin counties.  Your first stop will be to visit Seana Doughty of Bleating Heart Cheese.  In 2009 Seana bought ten pregnant ewes from a sheep dairy in Wisconsin and drove them to California as the start of her flock.  Hear about Seana’s adventures as you tour her brand new creamery built to meet the ever increasing demand for her cheeses.  Continuing through Tomales, Toluma Farms & Tomales Farmstead Cheese is next on the agenda where you’ll meet their beloved goats and sheep!  We will visit the newly opened creamery and taste their amazing farmstead goat and mixed milk cheeses.  Heading north to Sebastopol we make a lunch stop at the “new” ZaZu Kitchen & Farm at The Barlow.  Owners/chefs Duskie Estes and John Stewart are “farm-to-table” specialists and long-time supporters of the California artisan cheese movement. This dynamic duo will serve up a cheese-centric lunch in their always delightful New American-Northern Italian style. The menu will be paired with some of California’s best wines and/or beers.  For your final stop of the day we drive just one mile from Sebastopol to a hilltop overlooking the Laguna de Santa Rosa and Mayacama Mountains.  Here you’ll meet Lisa Gottreich at the Bohemian Creamery and her herd of Alpine dairy goats.  Find out why she decided to break out of her midlife mold and fill new ones with innovative and compelling curds. You’ll have the opportunity to taste a variety of Italian-style cheeses!  You won’t want to miss this tour!  $135.00 per person.

Farm Tour E **SOLD OUT** – Petaluma Passionate and Perfect  –  Achadinha Cheese Company; Marin French Cheese Company; Weirauch Farm & Creamery; Lagunitas Brewing Company

This culinary adventure proves that perfection exists in our own “back pasture”! Your first stop on this delightful tour will be at Jim and Donna Pacheco’s ranch and family run Achadinha Cheese Company. We will taste their goat and mixed milk cheeses that have received extensive media attention. Next stop, the award winning  Marin French Cheese Company to meet the cheese makers who will walk us through the cheese making process and give us a special presentation of their recently renovated creamery followed by a tasting of their landmark cheeses. Our last farmstead visit will be at the beautiful Weirauch Farm & Creamery. Joel and Carleen Weirauch have been slowly developing their flock of dairy sheep since 2004. Their recognized expertise in making artisan organic cow and farmstead sheep cheese is matched by their commitment to sustainable agriculture, expressed on every level of farming  – rotational pasture management, green building, water re-use from the creamery for irrigation, and integrative solar. Lunch will be at the always fun, always delicious Lagunitas Brewing Company. Tour the brewery, taste some of their world renown beers and enjoy a wonderful cheese focused lunch, served on the patio and matched with those amazing, award winning Lagunitas microbrews!  $135.00 per person.

Farm Tour F **SOLD OUT**– Family Farms, World Class Dairies and Magnificent Cheese! –  Two Rock Valley Goat Cheese; McClellands Dairy; Nicasio Valley Cheese Company

Start your day with a visit to the Two Rock Valley Goat Cheese Company where you will meet Dairyman Don DeBernardi and his wife Bonnie, along with the newborn “kids” at their family run dairy and farmstead creamery. You’ll taste their award winning aged goat tommes that are typical of Don’s ancestral region in Switzerland.  Next stop is McClelland Dairy where you will tour the family dairy and learn all about the history and day-to-day operations of this state of the art farm. Visit the nursery; pet the baby calves; watch the cows being milked in the parlor; and you’ll even have a chance to milk one of the beloved McClelland cows by hand! The tour finishes with a tasting of McClellands’ award winning European Style Organic Butter made in small batch, tumble churned artisan style.   Next on your itinerary is a tour and tasting at Nicasio Valley Cheese Company and LaFranchi Ranch, the 1,150 acre organically certified dairy farm continuously operated for 90 years, now run by the third generation of the LaFranchi Family. Experience the exquisite, award winning soft ripened cheeses that have put the LaFranchis on the “must taste” list of California artisan cheeses. The stop at Nicasio  will also include a delicious boxed lunch to be enjoyed out on the farm.  $75.00 per person.

Farm Tour G **SOLD OUT** – Cows, Beautiful Cows and Plenty of Brew!  –  Valley Ford Cheese Co.; McClellands Dairy; Lagunitas Brewing Company; Achadinha Cheese Company

First stop on today’s itinerary is the Valley Ford Cheese Company, a 640 acre Jersey dairy farm continuously milking since 1918. Overlooking the unique waters and wetlands of the Estero Americano in Valley Ford, its lush, rolling pastures have been home to five generations of the Bianchi/Grossi families, practicing sustainable agriculture just as their ancestors did in the Ticino district on the Swiss-Italian border. Your bus then rolls on to McClellands Dairy where you’ll tour their state- of- the art dairy, learn about the history and the day to day operations on the family farm. Visit the nursery, where you can pet the baby calves; watch the cows being milked in the parlor; you’ll even have a chance to milk one of the much loved McClelland cows by hand! The tour finishes with a tasting of McClellands’ award winning European Style Organic Butter made in small batch, tumble churned artisan style. Lunch will be at the always fun, always delicious Lagunitas Brewing Company. Tour the brewery, taste some of their world renown beers and enjoy a wonderful cheese focused lunch, served on the patio and matched with those amazing, award winning Lagunitas microbrews! Finish up your day at Jim and Donna Pacheco’s ranch and family run Achadinha Cheese Company and visit their herd of dairy goats. The “girls”, as the goats are called, are able to graze pasture all year long on 290 acres.  Coincidentally, their diet is supplemented with alfalfa and brewer’s grain from the local breweries which gives their cheeses their distinct flavor.  A perfect finish to a perfectly delicious day!  $135.00 per person.

EVENING SESSION – 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm

Meet the Cheesemakers and Their Cheeses, Sheraton Sonoma County, Petaluma
This year, we are giving you the opportunity to warm up your taste buds for the weekend’s events and go elbow to elbow with our rock star cheesemakers. Join cheesemakers and farmers at this intimate and informal experience where you can meet the cheesemaker masterminds themselves and fulfill those cheesy cravings by sampling their latest and greatest.   Artisan wines, beers and ciders will also be sampled.   $35.00 per person.