Escapes: Discover artisan cheese in Petaluma

California’s ninth annual Artisan Cheese Festival will be March 20-22 in Petaluma.
California’s ninth annual Artisan Cheese Festival will be March 20-22 in Petaluma. Sacramento Bee file


Be sure to say ‘cheese’ at this festival

Stinky, gooey, creamy, sharp, salty, washed-rind and fresh cheeses are all glorious in their own ways. California’s ninth annual Artisan Cheese Festival, easily the biggest cheese and wine gathering in the state, will bring together cheesemakers, cheesemongers, authors, chefs, winemakers, brewers and enthusiasts to celebrate, Friday through March 22.

There will be seminars, pairings, tastings, chef competitions, hands-on classes and demos. Individual ticket prices range from $45 to $95. Instructors include some of the most respected names in the industry, including Peggy Smith and Sue Conley of Cowgirl Creamery and cheese writer Janet Fletcher.

Don’t miss the festival’s grand finale, the Artisan Cheese Tasting & Marketplace, from noon to 4 p.m. March 22. Sample cheese, wines, brews and other specialty products from more than 90 vendors. Tickets cost $45 general and $20 for children ages 12 and younger. The Marketplace, and most other festival events, take place at the Sheraton Sonoma County, 745 Baywood Drive. Learn more at


Spring flowers

What: The blossoming of daffodils is an early sign of spring – and the reason for the annual Flower Power Festival in Point Arena. Expect a flea market, flower competition, daffodil sale, tours and bowls of fresh cioppino on March 21. On March 22, climb to the top of the Point Arena Lighthouse to watch migrating gray whales.

When: Individual event times vary, March 21-22

Where: City Hall, 451 School St., Point Arena

Cost: Free



Pinot weekend

What: Two-day Pinot Paradise invites wine lovers to explore pinot noirs from the Santa Cruz Mountains. March 21 will be dedicated to visiting vineyards. March 22 will feature a half-day class on the varietal, followed by a grand tasting.

When: March 21-22

Where: Event locations vary, Santa Cruz County

Cost: $25-$145



Snow bowling

What: Keep crossing those fingers for snow, and hope the lanes are smooth enough for Snow Tube Bowling. You’re the ball, tubing toward human-size, inflatable bowling pins.

When: Noon-2 p.m. March 21

Where: Tahoe Donner, 12790 Northwoods Blvd., Truckee

Cost: $3




What: The 10th annual Bay Area Flamenco Festival brings examples of the gypsy art form directly from Spain. Musicians, singers and dancers will perform at three events. The first, “Generations of Gypsy Flamenco,” features different generations, towns and styles.

When: 7 p.m. March 22

Where: Palace of Fine Arts, 3301 Lyon St., San Francisco

Cost: $35-$75



Civil War photography

What: Stanford University’s Cantor Arts Center’s newest exhibit, “American Battleground: Photographs of the Civil War,” highlights portraits and landscapes.

When: 11 a.m.-5 p.m. March 25-Aug. 17

Where: Cantor Arts Center, 328 Lomita Drive, Stanford

Cost: Free


Bee staff