Get Schooled at the Oregon Cheese Festival

February 9, 2015 (Updated December 23, 2016)

The Oregon Cheese Festival has real class, and this year more than ever. Held at Rogue Creamery in Central Point on March 16-18, 2018, the gathering of Oregon’s artisan cheesemakers will include two new educational classes. Sponsored by the Oregon Cheese Guild, the festival is now in its 13th year.

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“Education is a key part of our mission,” says Francis Plowman, Rogue Creamery’s “cheese narrator,” who handles public relations for the festival. “We will have two classes that are offered at no charge to festival guests.”

In the past, the first class has been led by the likes of John Greeley, American Cheese Society (ACS) Lifetime Achievement Award recipient and chairman of the ACS Cheese Competition Committee, and focused on judging cheeses, selecting award winners and understanding what makes a good cheese. The second class has typically been a seminar, teaching people how to pair artisan cheese with drinks; past hosts include James Kohn, co-owner of Wandering Aengus Ciderworks.

For those simply interested in sinking their teeth into delicious artisan cheese, there’s plenty of that too. Attendees can sample cow, sheep and goat cheese from Oregon creameries, including Pholia Farm, La Mariposa Creamery, Ochoa Creamery, Tillamook County Creamery, Willamette Valley Cheese Co., Fern’s Edge Goat Dairy, Oak Leaf Creamery, Rivers Edge Chevre, Briar Rose Creamery, Face Rock Creamery, Portland Creamery, Rogue Creamery and many others. In addition, the festival will include a number of Oregon chocolate-makers, wineries, breweries, distilleries and other culinary artisans.

The Oregon Cheese Festival has been recognized by Culture magazine as one of the Top 10 Cheese Festivals in the U.S. Tickets cost $15 for cheese tastings and demonstrations, and a $10 wine, beer and spirit tasting fee also gets you a commemorative glass. The scrumptious, four-course “Meet the Cheesemakers and Winemakers Dinner,” held at the Inn at the Commons in Medford, offers only 120 seats and has sold out for many years running. Proceeds benefit the Oregon Cheese Guild.

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Eileen Garvin
Eileen Garvin lives and writes in Hood River. When she’s not hunched over her keyboard or digging in the garden, you can find her mountain biking, kiteboarding, hiking, skiing or camping somewhere in Oregon.

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