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Magical Mendocino ushers in New Year with events galore

Visiting  Mendocino
By Patti Pietschmann

A dear friend flacks Mendocino and well. She always sends out the best releases for writers to share with their readers. In her most current mailing the talented PR woman offered a comprehensive sampling of fun events and diversions happening along the 90 miles of prime Pacific coastline.  Rich in fresh seafood, and a unique climate that lends itself to an abundance of wineries and breweries, Mendocino County  salutes wine. 

A thriving destination known for its rocky coastline monuments, towering redwood forests, thriving culinary scene and designation as "America's Greenest Wine Region™," the highlight of the winter season is Mendocino County's crustacean celebration: the 18th Annual Crab, Wine & Beer Festival taking place January 20-29, 2017. The countywide festival, named one of America's Top 10 Seafood and Wine Festivals by Coastal Living, is an opportunity for visitors to enjoy fresh Pacific seafood, including the county's famed Dungeness crab, and award-winning Mendocino County wine and beer, while exploring the wintry bounty of this coastal escape. The festival offers visitors the opportunity to indulge in crab-themed specials throughout the county including seafood dinners at local restaurants, seasonal hotel packages and crab and wine pairings at local wineries and adventurous excursions at sea. With something to please everyone from the crustacean-loving foodie to the romantic getaway-seeking couple, attendees' cravings for crab, wine, beer, and entertainment are sure to be satiated.

Shellfish galore
Crab Cioppino Dinner - Friday, Jan. 27: seatings at 4:30 p.m., 6 p.m. and 8 p.m.; $40/adult ($45 at the door); $15/children ages 6-12; free for children ages 6 and under
A longtime festival tradition, the annual Cioppino Dinner is held at the Historic Pentecost Hall in Fort Bragg. Guests don their bibs and get cracking as giant Cioppino pots brimming with crab and other seafood are brought family-style to the table for feasting. Mendocino County wines, North Coast Brewing Company beer, locally roasted Thanksgiving Coffee, and locally baked bread for dipping complement the festive occasion. Historic Pentecost Hall, 822 Stewart Street, Fort Bragg /707.961.3463

Crab Cake Cook-Off & Wine Competition - Saturday, Jan.28: 12-3 p.m.; $85/general admission
($110 after Dec. 15) 
The signature event of this festival takes place on January 28 at 12 p.m. with the much-anticipated Crab Cake Cook-Off and Wine Tasting Competition, featuring creative crab cakes crafted by top Mendocino County chefs, paired with wines from 20 Mendocino County wineries. The event will be judged by local personalities and experts in all things crab and wine.
The competition gets fierce as attendees sample a multitude of unique crab cakes and have the opportunity to see how their top choices match up with the judges' picks by nominating their favorite chef and winery for the People's Choice Awards. The event also features silent and live auctions for acclaimed Mendocino County wines, exquisite destinations and one-of-a-kind gifts, all to help establish a Health & Wellness Program at Mendocino Coast Clinics. Corner of Main & Spruce, Fort Bragg / /707.961.3463. The festival's signature events will benefit Mendocino Coast Clinics, a nonprofit health clinic established in 1994 that strives to build a healthy community by providing quality patient-centered health care to more than half of Mendocino Coast residents. For more information about Mendocino Coast Clinics or its fundraising events, please visit

Countywide fun 

Across the county, visitors can enjoy special winemaker dinners that pair Mr. Crabby with the county's bounty of wine varietals.
Piazza de Campovida Crustacean Celebration - January 20: 6 p.m.  $65/person for dinner; $85/person with wine pairings.  Join the Campovida crew for a cracking good time with a five-course tasting menu featuring King Crabby tastefully paired with Campovida's own wines. Piazza de Campovida is conveniently situated in downtown Hopland with deluxe accommodation available just a short walk upstairs from the restaurant.
13441 S. Hwy 101, Hopland / / 707.744.1977

Winemaker Dinner: The Bewildered Pig at Goldeneye Winery - January 21: 6 p.m.; $150/person (wine club members); $200/person (non-members). Join The Bewildered Pig's creative soul and chef, Janelle Weaver, and Goldeneye Winery's winemaker, Michael Accurso, for an exquisitely inspired four-course crab-themed dinner paired with Goldeneye wines, including a pre-release of the new 2014 Goldeneye Ten Degrees.
9200 Hwy 128, Philo / / 707.895.3202
Winemaker Dinner: Scharffenberger Cellars & Domaine Anderson at Café Beaujolais - January 26: 6 p.m.; inquire for pricing. With a new chef, Julian Lopez, at the helm, Café Beaujolais sets sail during the Festival with fellow winery mates, Scharffenberger Cellars and Domaine Anderson, providing a fine selection of bubbly and still wines to pair with exquisite crab delights. 4961 Ukiah St, Mendocino / / 707.937.5614

Roll out the barrel
Barrel Tasting 101 - January 21 & 22: 11 a.m. - 5 p.m.; $20/person for advance tickets ($30 day of the event)
The finest barrel tasting event of the year finds guests traveling up Highway 101 to Hopland, Ukiah and Redwood Valley to toast the season with complimentary tastings straight from the barrel at area wineries, seafood-inspired food pairings, and a commemorative wine glass to keep the party going. / 800.564.2582

Hole up at
  • Brewery Gulch Inn says "Get Your Crab On" with a 15 percent off midweek rates when staying two or more nights. The inn also offers a cooked-to-order breakfast and a light dinner buffet featuring crab and local Mendocino County wines and beers included in the room rate.
  • Enjoy a stay at Baechtel Creek Inn and indulge in a relaxing massage and other spa treatments.
  • At Sea Rock Inn, special midweek festival rates are just a call away!
  • Take advantage of the Little River Inn's Crabbiest Lodging Rates with generous discounts and a seat in Ole's Whale Watch Bar.
  • It's no holds barred where crab is concerned at Dennen's Victorian Farmhouse on Jan. 28. From 5:30-7 p.m., inn guests will enjoy complimentary Navarro wine paired with the innkeeper's famous "pull out the stops" crab hors d'oeuvres.
A is for Alsace --Unique to the county is its stronghold on crafting dry Alsatian wines, from Gewürztraminer to Riesling. The 2017 International Alsace Varietals Festival pops the cork on February 25 & 26, 2017. Now in its 20th year, the event - held in Anderson Valley -includes an educational session, grand tasting, winemaker dinners, and open houses, all celebrating delicious Alsace varietals. On Saturday February 25, 2017 at 8:30 a.m., join winemakers and Alsace aficionados from around the globe at the educational summit as they delve into the how-to's of successful Alsace-style winemaking. ($60/person) Then, at the Grand Tasting beginning at 1:00 p.m. taste Alsace-style white wines and enjoy foods perfectly suited for aromatic whites such as Riesling, Gewürztraminer, Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc, and Muscat. ($90/person; $60 designated driver). 

At Sunset
When the sun goes down head for a winemaker dinner in the intimate private dining room at Scharffenberger Cellars and learn first-hand why these aromatic whites are the darlings of the wine world. Chef David LaMonica (formerly Café Beaujolais) will create a memorable meal perfectly suited to wines from six different Alsace wine producers. At the Apple Farm in Philo, chef Karen Bates will prepare a meal to remember sourced from local ingredients perfectly paired with wines from Long Meadow Ranch and Balo Vineyards. ($150/person); 707.895.9463.

Enjoy a whale of a good time beginning in November, the California Grey Whale makes a monstrous migration to their nursery lagoons in Baja California, and every March they make the return journey to their feeding grounds in Alaska, this time with their young in tow. To celebrate their return... and their existence... Mendocino County puts on a whale of a festival over the first three weekends in March. On March 4 and 5, 2017 in Mendocino scout the horizon for whales from the Headlands State Park and explore the village after indulging your taste buds at the Chowder Tasting, with recipes from local chefs and restaurants, the North Coast Brewery beer tasting, and sipping wines from over a dozen county wineries.  Also there's the 7th Annual Little River Whale Festival on March 11-13 offers "Whale of a Sale" lodging specials, wine and beer tastings, nature adventures and a geo-caching treasure hunt. Take a sea cave tour with Kayak Mendocino to look for sea stars and meet and greet local seal celebrities or hike to the historic barns on Spring Ranch. On March 18 & 19, Fort Bragg goes all out to welcome their aquatic friends with chowders and soups at the Town Hall and the 21st Annual Beer Festival at Eagles Hall. Continue the fun with a chance to get up close to the whales by taking a whale-watching boat tour leaving from Noyo Harbor throughout the Festival; 707.961.6300 / tickets vary by event.
Back story--on any given year Mendocino County greets about  1.8 million visitors  who go to  explore  90+ wineries and 10 diverse AVAs (earning the highest percentage of organic and biodynamic vineyards in the United States), 24 state/national parklands and 450+ unique accommodations. Straddling scenic Highways 1 and 101, "The Redwood Corridor," the County delivers an ideal vortex of waves, wines and redwoods laced with historic villages and outback adventures. Located 114 mi./184 km. north of San Francisco, the region's gateway airports are San Francisco International (SFO), Oakland International (OAK), Sacramento International Airport (SMF), and Charles M. Schulz-Sonoma County Airport (STS). Visit Mendocino County is a non-profit destination marketing organization designed to enhance the economic vitality of the community by increasing tourism revenue. For more information, go to

This post first appeared on The Discerning Travel Diva, please read the originial post: here

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Magical Mendocino ushers in New Year with events galore


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