Northwest cheese producers serve up fall festivals

By on September 7, 2015
Regional cheeses are a natural favorite in the Pacific Northwest.

Regional cheeses are a natural favorite in the Pacific Northwest. (Photo by Eric Degerman/Great Northwest Wine)

While some debate pairing wine with chocolate, there’s no doubt Pacific Northwest cheese is a natural match for regional wines, and this fall brings two events worthy of a wine glass and portable cooler.

On Saturday, Sept. 26, the Washington Artisan Cheesemakers Festival will be staged at the Seattle Design Center in the Georgetown neighborhood and feature more than a third of the state’s 70 registered creameries.

A week later, Oct. 3 in Portland, there’s The Wedge, the annual signature event for the Oregon Cheese Guild. More than 35 creameries, wineries and other artisan producers will gather at Rogue Ales’ Green Dragon Bistro.

Washington Artisan Cheesemakers Festival

Washington Artisan Cheesemakers FestivalAmong the wineries supporting the Washington Artisan Cheesemakers Festival are Lobo Hills in Seattle and Purple Star Wines in Benton City.

The nonprofit Washington State Cheesemakers Association organizes the Washington Artisan Cheesemakers Festival, and an advance ticket is available for purchase online for $35, which includes all cheese samples and three drink tickets.

The list of registered creameries include Appel Farms (Ferndale), Beecher’s Handmade Cheese (Seattle), Black Sheep Creamery (Adna), Cascadia Creamery (Trout Lake), Cherry Valley Dairy (Duvall), Conway Family Farm (Camas), Domina Dairy & Creamery (Chehalis), Ferndale Farmstead (Ferndale), Glendale Shepherd (Clinton), Gothberg Farms (Bow), Heyday Farm (Bainbridge Island), Kurtwood Farms (Vashon), Laurel’s Crown (Othello), Little Dipper Dairy (Dayton), Monteillet Fromagerie (Dayton), Mountain Lodge Farm (Eatonville), Mt. Townsend Creamery (Port Townsend), Neighbor Lady Cheese (Renton), Ring of Trees Farm (Bellingham), Rosecrest Farm (Chehalis), Samish Bay Cheese (Bow), Sunny Pine Farm (Twisp), Tieton Farm & Creamery (Tieton) and Willapa Hills Cheese (Doty).

If available, tickets are available on a cash-only basis for $40. Cash-only advance tickets also are available at The Calf & Kid Artisan Cheese Shop in the Melrose Market on Capitol Hill in Seattle.

The Wedge

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The Oregon Cheese Guild created The Wedge in 2007. Tickets for The Wedge are $15 in advance and $20 at the door. Each ticket comes with a $5 coupon for any cheese of your choice.

For the first time, The Wedge offers a wine flight. A $10 fee will allow guests to sample wines from Brooks, Montinore Estate and Willamette Valley Vineyards. There will be a commemorative glass to take home.

Participating creameries include Ancient Heritage (Portland), Briar Rose Creamery (Dundee), Cascadia Creamery (Trout Lake, Wash.), Crushpad Creamery (Grants Pass), Cypress Grove (Arcata, Calif), Face Rock Creamery (Bandon), La Mariposa (Albany), Ochoa’s Queseria/Don Froylan (Albany), OSU Creamery (Corvallis), Portland Creamery, Rogue Creamery (Central Point), Skamokawa Farmstead Creamery (Skamokawa, Wash.), Tillamook, WellMont Farms Cheesorizo (Rogue River) and Willamette Valley Cheese Company (Salem).

Other seminars, $10 each, include:

  • A Tasting Tour of Oregon Beer & Cheese with Steve Jones of Cheese Bar and Chizu. From the Rogue to the Willamette and everywhere in between, discover the combinations you and the professional like best together.
  • Unusual Cheese Pairings from New Seasons Market. Coffee? Pineapple? Dark chocolate? From the taste experts at New Seasons, learn how to put together a cheese platter with unexpected accompaniments that will astonish and delight your guests’ taste buds.
  • How to Pair Cider with Cheese with James Kohn from Wandering Aengus Ciderworks.

The Wedge also will offer a children’s area with dairy princesses and face painting, photos with our mascot, and cheese wheel bowling.

A VIP ticket is $50, which provides early entry with special tastings, the wine flight, $5 voucher and swag bag.

About Eric Degerman

Eric Degerman is the president and CEO of Great Northwest Wine. He is a journalist with more than 30 years of daily newspaper experience and has been writing about wine since 1998. He co-founded Wine Press Northwest with Andy Perdue and served as its managing editor for 15 years. He is a frequent wine judge along the West Coast and contributor to Pacific Northwest Golfer magazine, the region's longest-running golf publication.

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