Mendocino may be most known for its stunning coastline, but ask anyone who has partaken of the area’s culinary offerings, and they’ll tell you the real treasures lie beneath the surface of the sea. At the annual Winter Feast Mendocino (formerly the Crab, Beer & Wine Festival), for 10 days starting in mid-January you can sample a smorgasbord of local sea-harvested specialties and wash it all down with a glass or two of the good local stuff. Options will include family-style cioppino (an Italian-American fish stew that originated with 19th-century San Francisco fishermen) feedings, as well as crab boils, wine and crab pairings, and winemaker dinners. Many Mendocino-area wineries will be participating, including Goldeneye Winery and Navarro Vineyards, both of which will be hosting winemaker dinners, and BARRA of Mendocino, Jaxon Keys Winery and Distillery, Nelson Family Vineyards, and Seebass Vineyards, among others.
You don’t have to be a wine aficionado to have an exceptional imbibing experience though. This being Northern California, the region’s celebrated craft breweries are also a major attraction. Pier Chowder House and Tap Room is teaming up with Anderson Valley Brewing for a five-course beer-and-food-pairing extravaganza, and other participating venues where you can sample local brews include the Hopland Tap House, North Coast Brewery Taproom, and Overtime Brewing Company & Restaurant.
Perhaps the highlight of the event every year though is the popular Crab Cake Cook-Off & Wine Competition. Mendocino County chefs go head-to-head, churning out thousands of cakes, competing for People’s Choice awards (your vote counts!) and recognition from professional judges as to who makes the best. Pair the savory treats with your favorite Mendocino wines, as well as microbrews, desserts, and coffee at this epic throw-down, a portion of the proceeds of which go to Mendocino Coast Clinics.