How To: Create Your Own Sonoma County Wine and Cheese Pairing At Home

This post comes from Emily O’Conor, the Gourmet Cheese Coordinator at Oliver’s Market, and a presenter at the California Artisan Cheese Festival.

Pairing cheese and wine like a pro comes naturally in a gourmet haven like Sonoma County. From sprawling vineyard-trellised valleys to the rolling grassy hillsides dotted with happily grazing cows that leads out toward the rugged coast, Sonoma County’s hard-working artisans produce a bountiful array of cheeses, wines, and all imaginable accoutrements. 

Guide to Pairing Sonoma County Wine and Cheese

The only rule in pairing cheese and wine: Have fun. After all, it is an epic journey for your palate, where experimentation can yield unexpected and delicious results. Hopefully this will serve as a primer for making your own Sonoma County wine and cheese board at home. That way, when the next California Artisan Cheese Festival rolls around, you’ll be a pro.

cheese and wine advertising cheese festival

A natural starting point when choosing what to pair is “what grows together, goes together.” Seasonality can guide your menu as well, leading you to the best cheese for the moment.

Local Sonoma County goat cheese is perfect this time of year, just in time for spring, when kidding season is in full swing and mama goats are noshing fresh green herbs and wildflowers. A light, crisp Sauvignon Blanc and a soft ripened goat cheese make a near perfect match. If Sauvignon Blanc’s bold acidity is too bright for your tastes, a creamy rosé will do nicely as well. 

For a dense creamy goat cheese with notes of fresh lemon curd, reach for Andante Dairy’s Crottin, or if a light fluffy goat’s milk cheese is what you crave, Bohemian Creamery’s BoDacious yields a fluffy paste with a runny cream-line slowly working its way towards the center.

If a celebration is in order and there is a bottle of bubbles chilling on ice, a decadent triple crème style, like what you’ll find at Cowgirl Creamery, will make the most luscious match. With no shortage of fabulous sparkling wine producers in our backyard, reach for your favorite Brut, Blanc de Blanc, or Blanc de Noir. 

At the end of a meal, when your palate is warmed and you are finishing the last of your bold red wine, a peppery blue cheese makes an exquisite match. For a mild earthy blue try Valley Ford’s Grazin’ Girl, a farmstead gorgonzola-style with a rich buttery flavor and a balanced earthy blue vein. Alternatively, reach for William Cofield’s Bodega Blue, which is a lovely balance of sweet, salt, and blue. 

Picture of a bin of cheese at a farmers market

Finally, try a local fruit preserve, like what you’ll find from The Spinster Sisters, or spiced chutney to bring out the red fruit and spice notes of your wine. Take your bite to another level and indulge in a square of dark chocolate alongside your blue cheese. Sonoma County is home to a number of great chocolate makers to choose from. It all makes for an addictive combination and the perfect way to end a meal.

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