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The annual Sonoma Valley Opportunities and Challenges Cheese Conference was established in 2000 by Sheana Davis, president and founder of the Epicurian Connection. Her co-host was Ignazio Vella, CEO and Cheesemaker of the Vella Cheese Company. The Sonoma Valley Cheese Conference was created to offer education to national and international cheesemakers, dairy farmers, retailers, chefs and restaurateurs on the ever evolving cheese industry. Each year the conference is facilitated by a UC Davis professor to add a level of expertise. Guest speakers include artisinal cheesemakers, farmstead cheesemakers, retailers, chefs, dairy farmers and cheese enthusiasts.
The conference hosts 300 people over 3 days. Local restaurants, wineries, breweries, retailers and businesses support the conference by hosting receptions for the guests. While attending the conference, cheesemakers are encouraged to offer in-store educational demonstrations at Sonoma County and San Francisco Bay Area retailers and specialty cheese shops. Each evening a reception is hosted, inviting local breweries, wineries and gourmet food producers to showcase their products to the guests of the conference.
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