The upcoming 14th Annual Oregon Cheese Festival will harken back to the traditional flavors and the food-drink pairings we’ve grown to love, as well as educate attendees what sets each apart in your grocery’s cheese case.
Rogue Creamery, long-standing venue for the Oregon Cheese Festival, is a cornerstone of rich, local food to Southern Oregon. Since opening in the 1930s, the creamery has aged into an establishment knowledgable in cheese pairings, recipes, and, of course, how to make delicious cheese.
Festival Coordinator Claira Cummings says this year’s showcase on March 17-18 will feature new Oregon creameries, have more food trucks than last year, and twice the number of craft distilleries. Last year 6,000 attendees noshed, sipped and discovered new food gems. The turnout is expected to be the same this year to taste from almost 100 craft food and drink artisans.
“Every time we add a new element to the festival, we retain it and layer on more each year,” Cummings says. “We’re always adding on and improving––each festival is bigger and better than the last.”
From Lavender Havarti to Sweet Fire Chevre to Jalapeño Gouda, the cheese combinations are endless. Enjoying these tastings paired with a glass of well-chosen wine is simply a cheesehead dream come true.
Featured creamery artisans include Southern Oregon’s By George Farm, Briar Briar Rose Creamery, Portland Creamery, Bandon-based Face Rock Creamery, among other Oregon cheesemakers. Well known out-of-state producers include Cowgirl Creamery and Cypress Grove from California, Spring Brook Farm from Vermont, and the Beehive Cheese Company from Utah.
To wash down all that cheese, festival goers can step up to Noble Estate Winery, Troon Vineyard, Belle Fiore, and others, for pours of favorite vintages and new releases. Craft breweries and distilleries include Atlas Cider, Rogue Ales, Agrarian Ales Brewing Company, and many more.
Kicking off the festival on Friday, March 16 will be the Cheesemakers Dinner held at Inn at the Commons in Medford. Here attendees can meet the cheesemakers and other vendors that will be present throughout the festival. This year’s expert “cheesehead” is David Gibbons, cheese columnist for Wine Spectator and writer for The Oxford Companion to Cheese. As the festival’s Master of Ceremonies he will lead the popular wine and cheese pairing.
“We hope guests take advantage of this once a year opportunity where creameries and other artisans gather to educate the community on their craft,” says Cummings. “We also hope guests take advantage of our master classes on Sunday where cheese experts David Gibbons and Melodie Picard with teach about pairing and plating.”
This festival is always an unmissable event, and it gets more unmissable each year.