The best fall cheese festivals in top dairy states California and Wisconsin

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California is the number 1 dairy producing state and Wisconsin is right behind as number 2 so it should come as no surprise that both are celebrating cheese with festivals this fall. This is the inaugural year for Art of Cheese Festival in Wisconsin and the 8th year for California’s SF Cheese Fest.

Art of Cheese Festival

The Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin is presenting the Art of Cheese Festival from September 29 through October 1, within and near Madison. The inaugural three-day event will consist of exclusive cheese-driven experiences promoting the state’s finest fromage.

“We wanted to show off the beauty of Wisconsin and the history of cheesemaking, and how important agriculture is to the Dairy State,” said Rachel Kerr, the Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin’s senior director, experiential and brand marketing. “The tradition of cheesemaking excellence began more than 180 years ago – before Wisconsin was recognized as a state.”

The festival will have over 40 Wisconsin cheesemakers present or represented, and more than 100 different cheeses featured. Attendees will learn from cheese experts, makers, farmers and more.

Presenters will include many Cheese Professor luminaries including Liz Thorpe, author of The People’s Cheese and Gateway Cheese; Belinda Chang, a James Beard Award-winning sommelier; Erika Kubick, author of Cheese Sex Death (read our review of the book) and cheese preacher; Marissa Mullen, author and founder of That Cheese Plate (read our review of her book That Cheese Plate Wants to Party; Justin Warner, an American cookbook author and Food Network television personality; Laura Werlin, a James Beard award-winning author of six books on cheese (read our profile of Laura Werlin); and our contributor, Jeanette Hurt, an award-winning food/drink author and editor.

There are seminars on cheese-related topics such as pairings with cocktails, chocolates and coffees, assembling cheeseboards and a cheesemaking 101. There will be different takes on experiencing cheeses, too. They involve a yoga session; a crawl in Madison’s Willy Street neighborhood; dinner at the Harvey House, a Wisconsin supper club within an old train depot; and a trip to two cheesemakers in Southern Wisconsin’s Green County.

“We wanted to show off the beauty of Wisconsin and the history of cheesemaking, and how important agriculture is to the Dairy State,” said Kerr.

Most events are by advance ticket only with prices starting at $75 per person. For the Wisconsin Cheese Ball event, every ticket will result in a wedge of Wisconsin cheese being donated to a local food bank.

However, the Cheese Fair Off the Square on Saturday, Sept. 30, is free to the public to attend. At this daytime event, meet Wisconsin cheese makers and sample their products alongside the Dane County Farmers Market in Madison.

SF Cheese Fest

Now in its eighth year, the SF Cheese Fest will happen on Saturday, Sept. 23, at the San Francisco Ferry Building’s Grand Hall. It is an annual fundraiser for California Artisan Cheese Guild, a nonprofit organization celebrating and supporting the state’s produced artisan cheeses.

While being held for the first time at this iconic building, the guild’s Executive Director Valerie Miller added that this year’s SF Cheese Fest will feature specialty cocktails and mocktails at their VIP tasting within the building’s Port Hearing Room.

At this special tasting, attendees can sample Californian artisan cheeses and specialty foods and local beers and California wines. A “Grazing Table” will be arranged by Gourmet Imports with charcuterie, fruits and veggies.

Over 15 local artisan cheesemakers will present their products at the festival; the complete list of vendor participants includes mostly Northern Californian artisan producers such as Nicasio Valley Cheese Co, Wm Cofield Cheese Co (read more about Wm. Cofield) and Tomales Farmstead Creamery (read more about Tomales Farmstead).

“California cheesemakers are a tight-knit community,” said Miller. “We look forward to showcasing our cheese, and sharing our work with each other and those who love cheese.”

Festival admission consists of the VIP Early Entry from 5 to 6 p.m., with general entry from 6 to 9 p.m. General admission tickets are $98 and VIP tickets are an additional $50, plus fees. Proceeds will help raise funds for the guild. The event will also have an online auction for those who can’t attend in person.

This article originally appeared on Cheese Professor and was syndicated by MediaFeed

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