SOURCE: Oregon Cheesemakers Guild

March 13, 2007 21:04 ET

Third Annual Oregon Cheese Festival Dishes Up Delicious Events; Hosted by Rogue Creamery

CENTRAL POINT, OR -- (MARKET WIRE) -- March 13, 2007 -- Oregon-inspired culinary events, including a Meet the Winemakers and Cheesemakers Dinner, a farmer's market-style artisan food and wine festival, and a chocolate, wine and fruit fair will kick off with the Oregon Cheese Festival during the fourth weekend in March.

The Oregon Cheese Festival will be open to the public Saturday, March 17 and Sunday, March 18, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Rogue Creamery, 311 North Front St, Central Point, OR. A $5 entry fee includes tastings and demonstrations. A $5 wine tasting fee includes a commemorative wine glass etched with the Oregon Cheese Guild logo. Tickets to the dinner are $70 per person. For more information contact Rogue Creamery at 541-665-1155 ext. 123.

"The farmer's market format will present an interactive experience between makers and visitors, giving everyone an opportunity to talk about the product, the process and learn each individual cheesemaker's story," says David Gremmels, owner with Cary Bryant of Rogue Creamery, which is hosting the event. "It's a way to truly be connected with the source of the cheese being presented."

At the festival, visitors will be able to shake hands with the cheesemakers and sample cow, sheep and goat cheese from Oregon and northern California creameries, including Fraga Farms, Juniper Grove, Pholia Farms, Tumalo Farms, Tillamook Cheese Co., Willamette Valley Cheese Co., Fern's Edge Dairy, Rivers Edge Chevre, Ancient Heritage Farmstead, Vella Cheese and Rogue Creamery.

Other participating culinary artisans include Lillie Belle Farms, Dagoba Organic Chocolate, Gary West Meats, Rising Sun Farms, Applegate Valley Artisan Bread Co., Butte Creek Mill, Pennington farms, SOS Pear Station, Slagle Creek Winery, Cliff Creek Vineyards, Madrone Mountain Vineyards, Eden Vale Winery, Paschal Winery, Agate Ridge, Troon Vineyard and Rogue Ales.

Samples and sales will be offered at each booth. Festival music will be provided by accordionist Michelle Scheffler and children are invited to participate in the event's annual coloring contest, sponsored by the Dairy Farmers of Oregon.

To commence the festival, a sumptuous meal introducing guests to participating artisans will be held at Ashland Springs Hotel Friday night, March 16, from 7:00 P.M. - 9:00 P.M.

"Prepared by Chef Damon Jones, the event will give the public a chance to have an intimate conversation with the experts," says Gremmels. "We are very pleased to announce that Max McCalman, one of the foremost cheese experts in the world, will be our guest this year."

Using local ingredients, each course will spotlight a cheese made by one of the festival's artisans paired with a local wine. Throughout the meal, McCalman (Maître Fromager at Picholine restaurant in New York City, Dean of Curriculum at the Artisanal Cheese Center and author of "The Cheese Plate" and "Cheese: A Connoisseur's Guide to the World's Best") will join Chef Damon, winemakers and cheesemakers in discussing the showcase dishes.

"Max McCalman will guide us through the ultimate in pairing experiences, focused on pairing regional cheeses with regional wines," Gremmels promises. "It will help make this year's Oregon Cheese Festival a spectacular celebration of artisan cheese made here in the Northwest."

The visiting expert will also lead festival-goers through two made-in-Oregon cheese and wine sensory experiences during the weekend event. At each demonstration, McCalman will help guests understand the order in which cheese and wine should be tasted as well as how to identify and enjoy flavor nuances.

Prior to the Friday dinner, the Oregon Cheesemakers Guild will meet to discuss guild business, future goals, supply sources and how to build educational collateral materials. A closed session will find McCalman leading guild members through a lesson on the affinage of cheese -- how it's aged, properly tended, and packaged so it reaches customers in perfect condition.

"Then, on Friday afternoon, cheesemakers will collaborate to create the greatest cheese plate we have seen in the state of Oregon," says Gremmels. The phenomenal result will greet guests at the evening's commencement dinner.

On Saturday, March 24th, Harry & David will host a festival that includes more of Oregon's finest cheese, wine, chocolate and fruits.

The festival would not be possible without the generous support of the City of Central Point, the Dairy Farmers of Oregon, Oregon Department of Agriculture and the Oregon Economic & Community Development Department and the members of Oregon Cheese Guild.

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