Mendocino may be most known for its stunning coastline, but ask anyone who has tasted the area’s culinary offerings, and they’ll tell you the real treasures lie beneath the surface of the sea. At the annual Crab Feast Mendocino (formerly the Crab, Beer & Wine Festival), you can sample local sea-harvested specialties and wash it down with a glass of the good local stuff. For 10 days starting in mid-January, options will include family-style cioppino (an Italian-American fish stew that originated in the 19th century), as well as crab boils, wine and crab pairings, and winemaker dinners. Many Mendocino-area wineries will be participating, including Goldeneye Winery and Jaxon Keys Winery and Distillery 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 hosts a five-course beer-and-food-pairing extravaganza.
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.