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All Things Cheese

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Like a good cheddar, the annual Sonoma Valley Cheese Conference has come of age. This week, for the 10th year running, artisan cheesemakers, retailers, distributors, food writers and aficionados from all over the country gather in Sonoma for three days of tasting, sipping and chatting. Hosted by Sheana Davis of the Epicurean Connection, this year's conference focuses on the next generation of young cheesemakers who have heeded the curdling call.

Festivities kick off in Sonoma on Sunday, Feb. 24, with a Winter Artisan Cheese Fair. In addition to plenty of beer and winetasting, guests will sample selections from the mac-and-cheese cook-off, featuring chefs from Hopmonk, Depot Hotel, Hot Box Grill and Real Food Company, among others.

Two days of seminars, speakers and networking sessions follow on Monday and Tuesday, with local cheesemakers Gabe Vella of Vella Cheese Company and Carleen Weirauch of Weirauch Farm & Creamery joining in a panel discussion with Wisconsin farmhouse cheesemakers Andy Hatch and Katie Hedrich. Proving that cheesemaking isn't just for farmers, urbanites Bob Willis and Kurt Dammeier discuss the art of curdling in the midst of the concrete jungle. And on Wednesday, author, CEO and self-described "lapsed anarchist" Ari Weinzweig gives a presentation on how to build a better business with less bureaucracy and more fun.

The conference runs Feb. 23–27 with various price points; to register, email Sheana Davis at sheana@vom.com or call 707.935.7960.

Visit www.theepicureanconnection.com to learn more.

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