It’s time for the 2014 Mendocino County Crab, Wine and Beer Festival, celebrating the Dungeness Crab Harvest. This ten-day countywide event provides opportunities for all-you-can-eat crab feeds, winemaker’s dinners, wine competitions, brewery tours, and crab fishing adventures. Restaurants, winemakers, and fishermen throughout the County welcome locals and visitors alike to join in the celebration.
The 15th Annual Crab, Wine, and Beer Festival takes place January 17-26 with an abundance of activities ready to delight everyone. Local restaurants and inns celebrate the Festival with specials and events throughout the month, and several wineries pair their wines with Crab appetizers on selected days. Even better, many events and activities during the Festival also serve as fundraisers for worthwhile local organizations such as the Lions, Knights of Columbus, and Rotary Clubs.
We’ll offer highlights below (including information about the awesome Crab Cake Cook-Off and Wine Tasting Competition), but you can also follow this link to the extensive Festival Brochure, which also describes the various art exhibits and outdoor activities taking place (such as horseback rides, guided mountain bike rides, and kayak classes).
Dining Options During the 2014 Crab, Wine, and Beer Festival
January 17 and 18 – Gualala Lions Crab Feed, Gualala Community Center, Gualala (All you can eat Crab, Salad, Bread, and Wine…one seating on January 17 at 6 pm and two seatings on January 18 at 5 pm and 7 pm)
January 18 – Pink Flamingo Crab Feed, The Weller House Inn, Fort Bragg (Fort Bragg-style Crab Louis with locally baked Bread, Creme Caramel, and Flamingos!)
January 18 – “Crabulicious” Soup Supper, Beachcomber Motel and Spa, Fort Bragg (Crab Chowder, Crab-Filled Profiteroles, and Mini Crab Cakes with Mango Salsa and Mango Aioli with a selection of wines)
January 24 and 25 – Knights of Columbus “Crabs, Crabs, Crabs,” Crown Hall, Mendocino (All you can eat Crab, Salad, Bread, Wine, Dessert, and Live Entertainment)
January 24 – Cioppino Dinner (3 seatings), Pentecost Hall, Fort Bragg (Cioppino filled with seafood and shellfish served alongside Bread, Salad, Dessert, and Coffee)
January 25 – Mendocino Coast Sports Foundation and Fort Bragg Rotary Crab Feed, Fort Bragg Fire House, Fort Bragg (All you can eat Crab, Salad and Garlic Bread)
January 25 – Willits Rotary Club Crab Feed, Willits Senior Center, Willits (All you can eat Crab, Salad, and French Bread)
If you’re interested in savoring Mendocino County wines alongside Dungeness Crab, the Mendocino County Crab, Wine and Beer Festival includes special Winemaker Dinners. The 2014 Dinners are on January 18 (Husch Vineyards at Mendo Bistro in Fort Bragg), January 23 (Roederer Estate at 5200 Restaurant & Lounge in Little River, Handley Cellars at Aquarelle Cafe & Wine Bar in Boonville), and January 24 (Scharffenberger Cellars at 955 Ukiah in Mendocino, Navarro Vineyards at the Mendocino Hotel in Mendocino, and Greenwood Ridge Vineyards at Coq Au Vin in Philo).
Or, if you just want to explore the many wonderful restaurants throughout Mendocino County, here are some crab-focused dishes you can find on the menus:
- 5200 Restaurant & Lounge (Little River) – Options here will include a Smoked Salmon and Mendocino Crab Pastry with Meyer Lemon Crème Fraîche, and Crab Soufflé with local organic vegetables.
- Adam’s Restaurant (Willits) – Chef Adam Celaya (People’s Choice winner at the 2013 Crab Cake Competition) will feature his winning Crab Cakes and other Dungeness Crab dishes
- Aquarelle Cafe & Wine Bar (Boonville) – Chef Christina Jones will be offering Crab Cakes, and Saffron and Crab Risotto
- Cafe Beaujolais (Mendocino) – The menu here will include their award-winning Crab Cakes.
- Cliff House Restaurant (Fort Bragg) – Chef Scott Effinger’s choices will include Steamed Dungeness Crab with Drawn Butter or Crab Louie
- Elk Store (Elk) – This old-fashioned grocery store and deli will combine Dungeness Crab with all of the fixings for the January Sandwich of the Month
- OCO Time (Ukiah) – Locally caught Crab will be incorporated into both new and classic Sushi creations
- Zinful Chef Café (Hopland) – Chef Sean Thomas will be cooking up a scrumptious She Crab Soup, made with local Dungeness Crab
For more information about the Dining Options at the Festival and/or how to sign up, please follow the above links or go here for more information.
Crab Cake Cook-Off & Wine Tasting Competition at the 2014 Crab, Wine and Beer Festival
On Saturday, January 25, the Crab Cake Cook-Off and Wine Tasting Competition occurs between noon and 3 pm at the Big White Tent at the corner of Main and Spruce in Fort Bragg. Mendocino Chefs each prepare hundreds of crab cakes for this gastronomical extravaganza alongside some of the County’s best wine and beer all under one roof. But, you should buy your tickets soon as this is one of the most popular events at the Mendocino County Crab, Wine and Beer Festival.
Come sip Mendocino wines, sample the Crab Cakes and then cast your vote for your favorites and see how your choice compares to the opinions of the Professional Judges. Mendocino County micro-breweries will also pour for your tasting pleasure. Tickets for the Crab Cake Cook-Off (and your tastings of choice) are $85 per person and you can purchase your tickets here.
In between bites and sips at the Crab Cake Cook-Off and Wine Tasting Competition you can also participate in a Silent Auction to help raise money for the Mendocino Coast Clinics. This local, non-profit community health clinic is dedicated to providing quality patient-centered health care to all coastal residents.
The 2014 Crab Cake Competition Chefs include:
- Kim Badenhop and Tamara Folley from Rendezvous Inn and Restaurant/KBistro
- Phil Castro from Saucy
- Adam Celaya (2013 People’s Choice Winner) from Adam’s Restaurant
- Marc Dym (2013 Judges’ Choice Winner) from Little River Inn
- Scott Effinger from Cliff House Restaurant of Fort Bragg
- Margaret Fox from Harvest Market
- Julia Kendrick-Conway from Assaggiare Mendocino
- Sal Meza from Redwood Coast Senior Center
- Rodrigo Perez-Sasa from The Lodge at the Woods
- Nicholas Petti and Jaimi Parsons from Mendo Bistro and Barbelow
- Oscar Stedman from The Phantom Cafe
- Sean Thomas from Zinful Chef Café
Over 20 wineries will be pouring Mendocino County wines at the Competition, including Graziano Family of Wines, Husch Vineyards, Maple Creek Winery (2013 People’s Choice Winner), Navarro Vineyards, Parducci Wine Cellars, Phillips Hill Winery, Roederer Estate, Toulouse Vineyards, and Yorkville Cellars (2013 Judges’ Choice Winner). For a complete list of participants and details for the Competition please go here.
Wine Tasting Options During the 2014 Crab, Wine, and Beer Festival
Mendocino County has 16,400 acres planted to wine grapes and it is home to 91 bonded wineries and 550 vineyard entities. The Mendocino County appellation is within the larger North Coast appellation and within Mendocino County there are ten approved and two pending AVAs. So, there are plenty of wine tasting options for you to discover and explore on your own. However, there are two special wine tasting activities going on during the Festival timeline we want to tell you about.
While in the area for the Crab, Wine and Beer Festival you can stop in at 45 designated wineries and breweries in the area as you explore Mendocino County, “America’s Greenest Wine Region®” and get your passport stamped at each participating winery or brewery you visit. After three stamps you can enter a drawing for a fabulous Mendocino County Grand Prize including wine, dinner, and lodging. And, if you visit three destinations on each of the two Wine & Beer Trails, then your chances of winning are doubled. Follow the link for more information about the 2014 Crab, Wine and Beer Festival Passport.
On Saturday, January 18 and Sunday, January 19 the Destination Hopland organization is offering Barrel Tasting 101, a chance to visit tasting rooms along the Highway 101 corridor which stretches from Hopland to Calpella and Ukiah to Redwood Valley. Tickets are $10 per person, and include a commemorative wine glass. From 11 am to 5 pm each day, 19 participating tasting rooms will be offering crab themed pairings. Some of our favorite wineries in the area are participating, including Graziano Family of Wines, McFadden Farm Stand & Tasting Room, Nelson Family Vineyards, Seebass Vineyards, and Testa Vineyards.
Mendocino County is a gorgeous destination, home of gourmet restaurants, unique inns, picturesque villages, friendly wineries, majestic redwoods, and rugged seaside spread around its 2.4 million acres. The local wines and beers are delicious, and fresh Dungeness Crab is a seasonal treat. Don’t miss out on the 2014 Mendocino County Crab, Wine and Beer Festival, an excellent opportunity to celebrate these things yourself. For our personal recommendations for wineries and restaurants while you’re in the area, please use the drop-down menus on the navigation bar above (under “Favorites By Wine Region”) to find our favorites for the Upper Russian River Valley/Redwood Valley, Anderson Valley and Yorkville Highlands areas.