California’s Artisan Cheese Festival takes place in the perfectly located Sheraton Petaluma. As we exited the freeway, I could see the large white festival tent dazzling in the March midday sunshine.
Being a “work trip”, I had to take care of gift basket business and set up our table in between the marketplace tents. We donated two Round Hill Wine & Gourmet Gift Baskets, a Napa Valley Wine Experience Gift Basket and a Classic California Cheese Picnic Gift Basket as raffle prizes for the event.
After set-up and checking on the gift baskets and table periodically throughout the day, (which gave my boyfriend and I a good break from cheesing) we were off to taste.
There were over 70 vendors at the “cheese” festival which was more of a wine, beer, cider, bread, olive oil, and vinegar and cheese festival. Essentially, it was the –everything-that-goes-well-with-cheese-and-cheese festival. Amazing!
All the guests were given beautiful souvenir wine glasses to taste with which made even the edgy and cool Lagunitas brews look elegant! Side note: I love the Lagunitas brewery but not for their elegance!
It would be impossible for me to discuss all of the products that I tasted as they were so many delicious treats so I decided to focus on my favorites.
My favorite cheese of the day was the Marin French Cheese Petit Dejeuner.
This cheese, named after the best meal of the day, was indeed a great day to start the day. It is an unripened soft cheese, which gives it a unique taste. We brought this home and paired it with antipasti treats such as cornichons, prosciutto and artichoke hearts and even thought we broke the rule of “petit dejeuner” by eating it at dinner, it was divine.
Another fabulous cheese, which is well-known in Northern California, is Psychedillic produced by festival sponsors Cypress Grove.
At California Delicious, we are lucky enough to offer Cypress Grove cheese in our Classic California Cheese Picnic Gift Basket but I had never tried this flavor before. It had a lemon-tangy tartness which was perfectly balanced with the copious dill flavors. Copious but not overpowering. I can imagine spreading this on every slice of bread I eat for the rest of my life.
Other California delicious cheeses included all Clover cheeses, who smartly used pretzel bites as cheese picks, Cowgirl Creamery’s Devil’s Gultch and all the Beehive Cheese varietals (actually from Utah).
Now on to the good stuff. My favorite winery was Black Kite Cellars in the Anderson Valley.
They specialize in Pinot Noirs, which are my preferred grapes and they were all delicious. The varietals names all relate to the specific valley hillside they were grown on. It was eye-opening to try such varied Pinot Noirs that were all grown within the same valley.
At the end of the event, we drew the gift basket raffle winners and luckily one winner was still at the festival so I was able to present her Classic California Cheese Picnic Gift Basket in person. She was really happy to win and was blown away by the gift basket which doubles as a picnic basket!
Oh and I could not blog about this event without mentioning the awesome band “The Mixed Nuts”. They created an awesome vibe and I am now an official groupie!
Such a wonderful day, everyone was in such a great mood, which is not surprising as we had come together for a beautiful reason- California Artisan Cheese.
Thanks so much for the opportunity to sponsor such a wonderful event- See you all next year!
1.5 hours from Sacramento
Just under an hour from San Francisco
6 hours from Los Angeles
To learn more about the California Artisan Cheese Festival, visit their website http://artisancheesefestival.com/.