Cheese makers, mongers and lovers will descend on Sonoma this week for five days of rinds and wheels. The Ninth Annual Sonoma Valley Cheese Conference, running Feb. 25–29, attracts premier cheese makers from around the country and the North Bay. Founded and hosted by Sheana Davis of Sonoma's Epicurean Connection, this year's conference will honor the memory of the late Ig Vella, a pioneering Sonoma County cheese maker.
The festivities begin in San Francisco on Feb. 25, with a winter artisan cheese fair showcasing top artisan cheese makers and Sonoma County wine and beer. The conference kicks off in earnest the next day in Sonoma featuring artisan cheese producers, wine, beer, guest chefs and a "winter mac and cheese cook-off" at MacArthur Place. Food writer Janet Fletcher will also host an afternoon cheese tasting.
The next two days feature seminars and networking sessions, and conclude with a one-day retail training session aimed at retailers led by Ari Weinzweig of Zingerman's, a celebrated retail food emporium based in Michigan. Tickets are available for each event. Call 707.935.7960 or see www.theepicureanconnection.com for more.