February 22-March 1, Sonoma Valley Cheese Conference: Cheesemaker Sheana Davis puts on one of the best gatherings of food and cheese producers in the country each year in Sonoma. Don’t miss the Sonoma Winter Artisan Cheese Fair at Ramekins Culinary Center (450 W. Spain St., Sonoma) on Feb. 23 with a sake and cheese tasting, beer and cheese pairing and mac ‘n cheese cookoff. Tickets are $60, online.
March 2, Cochon 555: Now in its eighth year, the epic pork event of the season hits Napa’s Culinary Institute of America for a day of chef competitions, pig eating and general swine-flavored goodness. This year’s local competitors include Cindy Pawlcyn (Mustard’s Grill), Jason Kupper (The Thomas), Kelly McCown (Goose & Gander), Patrick Clark (The CIA), Dustin Valette (Dry Creek Kitchen), students of The Conservatory led by Larry Forgione and Dave Budworth of Marina Meats. With 1200 pounds of heritage pork, 30 chef-created dishes, live butchery as well as a barkeep competition, there’s plenty to oink about. Tickets are $125 per person, details online.
March 10-16, Sonoma County Restaurant Week: Fifty-plus Sonoma County Restaurants roll out special 2 and 3 course prix-fixe menus during the fifth annual Restaurant Week event. Prices range from $19 to $39 for dinners, and this year, two course lunch menus range from $10 to $20. See all the participants online.
April 12-13, Bottega Gran Fondo: Organized by a world-famous chef, it’s not a huge surprise that Michael Chiarello’s (Bottega, Napa) spring Fondo is as much about the food as the cycling. “We Ride to Eat!” says the tagline for the event, which is limited to 300 participants. In addition to the ride through Napa’s vineyards and farmland, five chefs (Brandon Sharp of Solage, Daniel Humm of Eleven Madison Park, Matt Accarrino of SPQR), six winemakers/sommeliers (Joel Gott, Larry Turley, Doug Shafer) and cyclists George Hincapie, Christian Vande Velde and Bob Roll and “special guests” Sam Beall (Blackberry Farm) and Gary Erickson and Kit Crawfor dof Clif Family Winery (and, uh, Clif Bars) will be in attendance. Riders have the opportunity to connect with “teams” of Chefs, Sommeliers or Pro Riders, traveling either 40 or 75 mile courses through the Napa Valley. Standard registration is $250 ($350 after March 15) and $650 for the VIP Package (film festival screening pass, VIP cocktails and dinner). Details online.