Crabby? Why, yes!

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Crab season in Mendocino County, California is upon us! What better reason to hop in the car and head up the Pacific Coast Highway. A great way to sample some of the region’s best “crab cuisine” — the Mendocino County 15th Annual Crab, Wine & Beer Festival.

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The festival, which runs from January 17 through the 26, showcases not only Northern California’s famed Dungeness crab, but Mendocino County’s award-winning wine and beer.

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What’s on the schedule? For all you planners, here are a few things to put on your radar.

Not to miss – this signature event:

CRAB CAKE COOK-OFF AND WINE TASTING COMPETITIONJanuary 25, 12 p.m. – 3 p.m.; $85/general admission

The festival culminates on January 25 at 12 p.m. with the much-anticipated Crab Cake Cook-Off and Wine Tasting Competition, featuring crab cakes perfected by top Mendocino County chefs paired with wines from over 20 wineries in Mendocino County, America’s Greenest Wine Region™. The event will be judged by journalists and food experts from across the nation. The competition gets fierce as guests 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 extraordinary wines, destinations and gifts, all to help establish a Health & Wellness Program at Mendocino Coast Clinics.

Corner of Main & Spruce, Fort Bragg / /707.961.3463

Highlights to catch:

Barrel Tasting 101 – January 18 & 19, 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.

The finest barrel tasting event of the year finds guests traveling up Highway 101 to Hopland, Ukiah and Redwood Valley to toast the crab season with complimentary tastings straight from the barrel at numerous area wineries, crab-inspired food pairings, and a commemorative wine glass to keep the party going. Barrel Tasting 101 is priced at $10 per person. / 800.564.2582

Climb Aboard the Skunk Train January 18 & 25, 10 a.m.

The historic skunk train gets crabby in honor of the week’s festivities. Departing from Fort Bragg, the Crab & Wine Express snakes deep into the heart of Mendocino County and along the forest floor for a delightful day featuring local Mendocino County wines and a stop at Camp Mendocino for a delicious Crab Louie Salad.

Foot of Laurel Street, Fort Bragg / / 707.964.6371

Family-style Cioppino Feed January 24, three seatings at 4:30 p.m., 6 p.m., and 8 p.m.

Everyone is considered family at this special cioppino feast, featuring locally sourced Dungeness crabs and seafood. Served family-style, dinner includes piping hot cioppino, bread from world-renowned Café Beaujolais, tossed salad, dessert, locally-roasted coffee from Thanksgiving Coffee Company, and of course, enough bibs to outfit the family for a night of delicious indulgence. The Cioppino Feed is $35 for adults, $15 for children 6-12 years old, and free for children under five years old.

Historic Pentecost Hall, 822 Stewart Street, Fort Bragg / / 707.961.3463

Winemaker Dinner: Husch Vineyards at Mendo Bistro January 18, 6 p.m.

Enjoy an exquisitely mouthwatering dinner featuring fresh Dungeness crab and other delights from the ocean deep, prepared to perfection by Chef Nicholas Petti of Mendo Bistro and paired with the finest wines from Husch Vineyards in Anderson Valley for a feast second to none. Tickets are $60 per person, exclusive of gratuity.

301 N. Main Street, Fort Bragg / / 707.964.4974

Winemaker Dinner: Roederer Estate at 5200 Restaurant & LoungeJanuary 23, 6 p.m.

The stunning Heritage House Resort, perched high above the roaring Pacific, sets the scene for this incredible intimate dinner. Winemaker Arnaud Weyrich will pair Roederer Estate wines with the hearty yet elegant cuisine of 5200 Restaurant’s Chef Fabrice Dubuc.  Call for pricing, reservations and additional information.

5200 N. Hwy One, Little River / / 707.202.9000  

To view the festival’s schedule, and stay to current on hot happenings, visit



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