It’s Crabtastic! The 2017 Mendocino County Crab, Wine & Beer Festival

Dungeness Crab, ready to goGreat news!  There’s still time to join in on the 2017 Mendocino County Crab, Wine & Beer Festival, a countywide celebration between January 20 and 29.  You’ll find family-style crab and cioppino feeds, gourmet winemaker dinners, food and wine tasting opportunities, craft breweries, a crabcake competition, and fishing and whale watching adventures in this rural county of striking natural beauty just 90 miles north of San Francisco and 145 miles west of Sacramento.

Throughout the ten-day Festival, you’ll find fresh cracked crab on the menu at Little River Inn (in Little River), or you can create your own party with freshly caught (and cooked) crab from Noyo Fish Company (in Fort Bragg) or the Fish Peddler (in Ukiah).  If you’re looking for something to pair with your crab, Mendocino County abounds with premium wineries specializing in sparkling wines, Alsatian white wines, Pinot Noirs, Italian red wines, and plenty of stellar blends.  Or, you can explore the beer offerings at Anderson Valley Brewing Company (Boonville), Mendocino Brewing Company (Ukiah) and North Coast Brewing Company (Fort Bragg).

Mendocino Skunk Train

Mendocino County Skunk Train

For adventure, your choices include crab fishing or whale watching trips with Telstar Charters, kayaking with Liquid Fusion Kayaking, horseback riding at Ricochet Ridge Ranch, canoe or bike rentals from Catch a Canoe and Bicycles, Too!, Land Rover tours around endangered hoof stock animals at B. Bryan Preserve, an exploration of the tallest lighthouse on the Pacific Coast at the Point Arena Lighthouse, or a ride on the restored rail cars of the historic Skunk Train.

We’ll offer highlights of the Crab, Wine & Beer Festival and the County’s offerings below (including information about the awesome Crab Cake Cook-Off and Wine Tasting Competition on January 28) but you can also follow this link to the extensive Festival Brochure.

2017 Crab, Wine, & Beer Festival:  Dining Options

Hungry?  Here are some of the special events coming to this year’s Mendocino County Crab, Wine & Beer Festival: Dungeness Crab on Pier

  • January 20 – Frey Wines & Crab Bites, Frey Wines, Redwood Valley (An evening of organic and biodynamic wines, seafood appetizers and live music – free but you must RSVP at 707-485-5177)
  • January 20 – Five Course Tasting Menu, Piazza de Campovida, Hopland (Delectable meal with or without Campovida wine pairings for courses such as Dungeness Crab Salad on Endive paired with Cuvée Brut and Dungeness Crab and Mushroom Gnocchi with Rosé di Grenache, $65 per person or $85 with pairings)
  • January 20 and 21 – Crab Feed, Gualala Community Center, Gualala (the Gualala Lions offer an All-You-Can-Eat extravaganza featuring crab, salad, garlic bread and wine for $45 per person – please contact Richard Ryder at
  • January 21 – Winemaker Dinner, Goldeneye Winery, Philo (Janelle Weaver, Chef/Proprietress of the The Bewildered Pig, presents a four-course dinner paired with Migration and Goldeneye wines including dishes such as Slow Butter and Preserved Lemon Poached Dungeness Crab Claw and Half Maine Lobster Tail as well as Dungeness Crab and Chicken Leg Confit Porcini Cannoli for $200 per person, $150 for wine club members)
  • January 24 – Winemaker Dinner, Cucina Verona, Fort Bragg (Between 5 pm and 9 pm, enjoy an $18 four-course dinner featuring local crab from Chef Joe Harris and Navarro Vineyards wine pairings at just $6 per glass)
  • January 25 – Winemaker Dinner, Wild Fish, Little River (Your choice of 2 courses for $55 or 5 courses for $75 with choices such as Dungeness Crab Verrine or Crab Doshi Broth with Baby Bok Choy, Chili and Fresh Dungeness Crab: Navarro Vineyards wines will be available at a discount as well)
  • January 27 – Cioppino Dinner, Pentecost Hall, Fort Bragg (Cioppino filled with seafood, shellfish and crab served alongside Bread, Salad, Dessert, and Coffee at a benefit for Mendocino Coast Clinics with separate seatings still available at 4:30 and 8 pm)
  • January 27 and 28 – All-You-Can-Eat Crab Feed, Crown Hall, Mendocino (From the Knights of Columbus, all you can eat Crab, Salad, Bread, Wine and Dessert at 6 pm with Live Entertainment at 8 pm and a Grand Raffle at 9 pm both days)
  • January 28 – Crab Feed, Fort Bragg Firehouse, Fort Bragg (From the Fort Bragg Rotary Club, this Feed of Crab, Clam Chowder, Salad and Garlic Bread, between noon and 6 pm for just $75, will have proceeds helping Rotary projects and the Timberwolf Stadium, a lighted playing field on the Mendocino Coast – and desserts are from the Fort Bragg Interact Club)
  • January 28 – “Crabulicious” Wine Tasting, Dennen’s Victorian Farmhouse, Little River (Crab and other seafood Hors d’oeuvres and Navarro Vineyards wines from 5:30 pm to 7 pm for just $25 per person, or free for Dennen’s hotel guests)
  • January 29 – Sunday Brunch, Pennyroyal Farm, Boonville (For just $50 per person, and optional Pennyroyal Farm wine pairings for an additional $20, this three course brunch includes Dungeness Crab and Leek Salad, Crab with House-made Fettucini, and Laychee Panna Cotta – optional farm tours will be offered at 9:30 am and 11 am)

Cafe BeaujolaisLocal dining options include an option to create a personal combination of crab, wine and beer at Saucy, the home of wood-fired pizza in Ukiah.  Or, savor the ocean view from Elk at a southern-style Champagne Brunch Buffet at the Elk Cove Inn and Spa.  On Friday and Saturday nights, the North Coast Brewing Company in Fort Bragg offers a combination of hand-crafted brew and live jazz.   Or, you’ll find crab-focused dishes at other restaurants in cities throughout the County such as Elk (Bridget Nolan’s Pub), Fort Bragg (Point Noyo Restaurant and Bar), Hopland (Piazza de Campovida), Little River (5200 Restaurant and Lounge), Mendocino (Café Beaujolais), Philo (Stone and Embers) and Ukiah (Crush).

Kemmy's Pies

Whiskey-Soaked Apple Pie from Kemmy’s Pies

If you’re creating your own celebration, we suggest dropping by Harvest Market in Fort Bragg or Mendocino, or Westside Renaissance Market in Ukiah, great sources of locally produced foods such as breads, cheeses, wines, beers, and other “to go” foods.  For dessert, we heartily recommend Kemmy’s Pies, available at stores in Boonville, Fort Bragg, Laytonville, Mendocino, Redwood Valley, Ukiah and Willits (and their current “Kreation of the Month” is a Cherry Port pie).  For coffee, you should aim for Black Oak Coffee Roasters (with a café open daily in Ukiah) or Thanksgiving Coffee Company.


2017 Crab Cake Cook-Off & Wine Tasting Competition

One of the most popular events of the Mendocino County Crab, Wine & Beer Festival is the Crab Cake Competition.  For 2017, that throwdown takes place on Saturday, January 28, challenging local chefs, cooks, and caterers to pull out all of the stops between noon and 3 pm in the Big White Tent at the corner of Main and Spruce in Fort Bragg.  Come sip and savor Crab Cakes alongside local wines, and then cast your votes and see how your opinions compare to those of the professional judges.

Crab CakesIn between bites and sips you can also participate in Silent and Live Auctions (and a Raffle!) to help raise money for Mendocino Coast Clinics, a non-profit community health organization providing high-quality patient-centered health care to all coastal residents. MCC’s offerings include Pediatric, Geriatric, OB/GYN, Mental Health, Substance Use and Dental services.  In addition, their Teen Clinic is heading into its seventh helpful year.

The 2017 Crab Cake Competition Chefs include:

Maple Creek WineryAt least 20 wineries will be pouring at the Competition, including Bonterra Organic Vineyards, Chance Creek WineryHandley CellarsHusch VineyardsKnez WineryMaple Creek WineryNavarro VineyardsRoederer EstateSeebass Family Wines, Tahto Wines and Toulouse Vineyards. For a complete list of participants and details for the Competition please go here.

In addition to crab cakes and wine, Cook-Off attendees will also be able to enjoy tastes from Kemmy’s Pies, Pennyroyal Farmstead Cheese, and Thanksgiving Coffee Company. Tickets are $85 per person and you should purchase your tickets here soon.


2017 Crab, Wine & Beer Festival:  Wine Tasting

"Honey" at Lula Cellars

“Honey” at Lula Cellars

Mendocino County has over 16,000 acres planted to wine grapes and many wineries are offering crab and wine pairings on certain days during the 2017 Crab, Wine & Beer Festival.  Along the Anderson Valley/Yorkville Highlands corridor, wineries open daily include Goldeneye, Handley Cellars, Lula Cellars, Meyer Family Cellars, Navarro Vineyards, Phillips Hill Winery, Roederer Estate, Seebass Family Wines (Boonville location) and Yorkville Cellars.  Other wineries we recommend include Balo Vineyards (open Fri – Sun), Baxter Winery (Thur – Mon), Bink Wines (Wed – Mon), Lazy Creek Vineyards (Fri – Mon) and Philo Ridge Vineyards (Fri – Mon).  On January 29, Lula Cellars will also hold an open house between 11 am and 4 pm featuring crab dishes matched with their wines, hosted by Honey (the official winery dog).

On the Redwood Valley/Highway 101 corridor, over 15 wineries welcome guests in their tasting rooms.  On January 21 and 22, these wineries will hold their annual “Barrel Tasting 101” event where one ticket will get you entry to all of the participating tasting rooms, a logo glass and an event map.   You’ll be able to meet and talk with winemakers, experience wines right from the barrel, and/or purchase futures of your favorites at a discounted price.  You’ll also enjoy carefully chosen wines paired with crab-inspired dishes.

Testa Vineyards

Testa Vineyards

The Barrel Tasting 101 event is $20 per person if purchased in advance, or $30 per person at the door that weekend.   Participating wineries in this Upper Russian River Valley region include Barra of Mendocino, Campovida, Cesar Toxqui Cellars, Graziano Family of Wines, McFadden Vineyards, Nelson Family Vineyards, Rivino, Saracina, Seebass Family Wines (Ukiah location) and Testa Vineyards.


2017 Crab, Wine & Beer Festival:  Beer Fun

To explore the beer offerings in Mendocino County during the Crab, Wine & Beer Festival, you should know about: Crab and Beer

  • Anderson Valley Brewing Company (Boonville) – a Brewery whose grounds include picnic groves, horse pastures, and an 18-hole Disc Golf Course.  Their tap room is open daily and they offer tours daily at 1:30 pm.
  • Mendocino Brewing Company (Ukiah) – this American Craft Brewer of full-flavored traditional ales also has an Ale House with a pool table, a dart board, a 40” TV, and free WiFi.   Their Happy Hour (Mon – Fri, 4 – 6 pm) offers dollar-off brews as well as hot dogs and polish sausages for just $2.49.
  • North Coast Brewing Company (Fort Bragg) – a microbrewery and pub, the North Coast Brewing Company has developed a strong reputation for quality having won more than 70 awards in national and international competitions. They also present Jazz dinner concerts every Friday and Saturday starting at 6 pm.


2017 Crab, Wine & Beer Festival:  Mendocino County Art Events

Mendocino County offers art and performance events throughout the year, but during the time of the Crab, Wine & Beer Festival you can peruse exhibits at the Gualala Arts Center, Mendocino Art Center, Mendocino County Museum, Ukiah Art Center and Willits Center for the Arts.  Performances include the musical group Foxglove at the Mendocino Theatre Company in Mendocino on January 21, the Bolshoi Ballet’s performance of Sleeping Beauty on film at the Arena Theater in Point Arena on January 22 and a “Symphony of the Redwoods” concert at Cotton Auditorium in Fort Bragg on January 28.


2017 Crab, Wine & Beer Festival:  Lodging

If you need a place to stay, you should know that several hotels and inns are having specials during the 2017 Crab, Wine & Beer Festival.  You can find discounts of up to 30% in some places and significant discounts on the third night of a stay in other places (up to 50% off that third night). Here are just some of the packages and specials you can find:

Albion River Inn (Albion) – From now through April, Sunday through Thursday, you can receive a generous 30% discount on their ocean view rooms (excludes holidays).

Beachcomber Motel & Spa

Beachcomber Motel & Spa

Beachcomber Motel & Spa on the Beach (Fort Bragg) – Their “Fab Crab” package for 2 comes with a $30 spa credit, sparkling wine and chocolates, two nights’ stay and two tickets to the Fort Bragg Rotary annual crab feed.

Brewery Gulch Inn (Mendocino) – Stays of two or more nights (between Sunday and Thursday) are discounted 15% and crab will be featured in special dishes in the gourmet cooked-to-order breakfast and light dinner buffet (with Mendocino County wines and beers), with both meals included in the room rates.

Elk Cove Inn and Spa (Elk) – Stay two nights at full price in one of the luxurious oceanfront accommodations, and each additional night (Sunday through Thursday) is 50% off (and there is a champagne brunch offered daily).

Fairfield Inn & Suites (Ukiah) – During the Crab, Beer and Wine Festival there is a special rate of only $109 per night for a King Bed (for 1-2 guests).

Grey Whale Inn (Fort Bragg) – Enjoy a 20% “Crab Fest” discount on both their weekday and weekend rates, with free wi-fi and parking, until the end of January.

Please check with the hotels for availability, limitations, and/or any exclusions. You can find more information on lodging in the area at the Visit Mendocino website, and Festival specials in the Crab, Wine and Beer Festival Brochure.

Crab, Wine and Beer Fest BrochureGorgeous Mendocino County contains majestic redwoods, rugged seaside, gourmet restaurants, unique inns, picturesque villages, premium wineries, fun microbreweries, and plentiful outdoor activities spread around its 2.4 million acres.  The local wines and beers are delicious, and fresh Dungeness Crab is a seasonal treat.  You don’t want to miss out on the 2017 Mendocino County Crab, Wine and Beer Festival, an outstanding collection of ways to celebrate these things yourself.



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