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Crab & Wine Festival in Mendocino

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2012 Crab & Wine Festival Toasts Northern California's
Local Bounty of Land and Sea

Mendocino County Serves Up Delicious Fare at Internationally Recognized Annual Event, January 20-29

mendocino_CrabWineDays.jpgMENDOCINO COUNTY, CA -- Every January for the past thirteen years, Northern California's Mendocino County has been celebrating locally harvested Dungeness crab and award-winning wines from "America's Greenest Wine Region" with a festival that satiates the taste buds of foodies and oenophiles alike.

From gourmet, crab-themed dinners in four-star restaurants, to family-style cioppino feeds, to the ever popular Crab Cake Cook-off featuring local Mendocino chefs, this festival has something for everyone! And to wash down the abundance of crab, local winemakers will be pouring at winemaker dinners throughout the county and also at the official Wine Tasting Competition, held in conjunction with the Crab Cake Cook-off. Visitors will enjoy a multitude of dinners, tastings, demonstrations, excursions, events and lodging specials over the course of the ten days -- hosted by Visit Mendocino County, the Mendocino Coast Clinics, innkeepers, restaurants, wineries and more.

The 2012 festival takes place from Friday, January 20th - Sunday, January 29th. Some special highlights not to be missed include:

Harvest Events Around Wine Country

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calverasGrapeStomp.jpgGOLD COUNTRY
October 1 -- Calaveras Grape Stomp
Celebration, Wine Education: 25 lbs of freshly picked wine grapes, a half wine barrel with a spout, a partner and you. It's Calaveras Grape Stomp time, bringing thousands of spirited stompers and gawkers to enjoy a full day of frivolity. In conjunction with Murphys Gold Rush Street Faire, Main Street, Murphys CA
Fee: Free; Time: 9:30 a.m. - 5 p.m.; Phone Number: 209-754-0127

LIVERMORE
September 16-18 -- Harvest Festival
Festival: Hundreds of booths featuring handmade art, photography, ceramics, blown glass, toys, jewelry, food and more. All day stage and strolling entertainment.
Location: Alameda County Fairgrounds, 4501 Pleasanton Avenue, Pleasanton CA
Fee: $9 Adults/$7 Seniors/$4 Youth; Time: Fri & Sat 10a.m.-6p.m/Sun 10a.m.-5p.m.
Phone Number: 415-447-3205

October 1 -- Harvest Tour & Tasting at Wente Vineyards
Wine Education: Wente Vineyards invites you to experience the winery as never before with this rare behind the scenes tour and tasting during the upcoming 2011 harvest. Learn how Wente Vineyards produces world class wines. See the processing first hand and sample some current vintages from our small lot winery as well as wines aged to perfection from our library. Reservations required.
Location: 5565 Tesla Road, Livermore CA
Fee: $20/$15 Wine Club Members; Time: 10am, 12pm, 2pm & 4pm
Phone Number: 924-456-2305

MENDOCINO
October 8 -- Breggo Winemaker Harvest Luncheon & Tour
Celebration: Join us as we host an intimate "Ripe for the Picking" Harvest Luncheon with Winemaker Ryan Hodgins. Twenty ticketed guests will join us in the cellar to experience a chef-prepared luncheon inspired by our fall releases.
Location: 11001 Highway 128, Boonville CA
Fee: $35/$25 Club Members; Time: 1pm - 4 pm; Phone Number: 707-895-9589

October 22 - 23 -- Hopland Passport Weekend
Wine Education: This year's theme is "Aged to Perfection". With seventeen participating wineries pouring their best wines, incredible food pairings at each stop, and opportunities to experience tours, art installations, and live music, Hopland is the place to be for wine lovers!
Fee: $45/$55 During the Event; Time: 11 a.m. - 5 p.m.; Phone Number: 800-564-2582

February to May in Mendocino

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As winter's squalls turn to gentle raindrops, the Mendocino coast begins to come alive with wildflowers and native grasses. Perhaps one of the most beautiful times to visit, springtime is a fickle season that transforms from grey mornings as fog rolls in, to brilliantly sunny afternoons perfect for coaxing out tiny buds.

Inland areas tend to be similarly rainy, though a bit warmer. Even so, this time of year throughout the county tends to be a slow season, with most travelers waiting to escape to the cool coast when things get stifling elsewhere (June to October). You'll find fewer crowds right now (though February and March are whale season, and attract wildlife enthusiasts). Some tasting rooms and restaurants close up altogether or have limited hours until the crowds start returning in May, so check ahead. The good news is that you may be able to get an easy reservation at your favorite inn or hard-to-book restaurant during this slow season.

Rural and Slow Paced: Mendocino

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Mendocino is a county of rural communities, miles of scenic coastline, and intense natural beauty. When you visit Mendocino it is unusual to do so in a hurry. The winding highways, whether wrapping along the coast or between redwood forests and vineyards, are certain to slow you down. But the attitude of the historic little towns and even the larger community centers is one that is measured more by the pace of the earth and less by the watch on the wrist.

Making Your Way to Fort Bragg

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Fort Bragg, CA is a Great Last Minute Getaway Town

Getting to Fort Bragg is part of the pleasure. There are several routes that will take you through dense redwood forests, world-class wine growing regions, or spectacular ocean-side routes. Coming and going to Fort Bragg, either way gives you opportunities to reflect on the majesty of the environment, as well as spend some serious car time with friends and family.

If you are heading north from San Francisco, there are a couple of routes that you may want to consider. While you can travel Highway 1 completely up the coast, depending upon your time frame and your brakes you may want to wait until hitting Santa Rosa on Highway 101 before heading westward.

Chillin' on the Coast

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There's nothing like a last minute getaway. It's a snap decision - you look around, grab your overnight bag, and hit the road.

High tourist season and holiday weekends aside, finding last minute accommodations on the road can either be surprisingly easy, or an opportunity to accidentally end up camping in your car. There's a couple of wine country communities that you can almost always bet will provide you quick and easy lodging - anything from the basic room and board to lovely bed and breakfast's that just happen to have an opening waiting for you.

Go Go Camp Mendo

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By Robert Farmer

Those familiar with this space know that I am a fan of "immersion learning." Especially when it comes to wine appreciation, there's no better way to "go deep" into it than to live it for a few solid days. Wine camps are a great way to do it. And increasingly, regions are offering innovative, educational, and above all fun, opportunities to experience wine like you never have.

Mendocino gets into the act with Wine Camp 2008, a three-day, three-night immersion into Northern California wine and all of its various nuances and tendencies. I like this Wine Camp because it takes place in one of California's lesser-known regions and provides "insider info" to the intrepid camp-goer about one of Northern California's under-discovered gems. And, with each camp limited to just eight campers, it promises to be an intimate excursion, with ample opportunity to get one-on-one contact with winemakers and other participants.

Field of (Sweet) Dreams

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By M.L. Hilton

(FORT BRAGG, CA) -- I try and make two pilgrimages – at least – to Mendocino County each year. One always comes at the end of August, and its purpose is to reconnect (where possible) with my tribe of women and celebrate the efforts of the body.

Okay, it’s only a soccer tournament. It happens the last weekend in August in Fort Bragg and it brings together a handful of women’s teams ranging in age from teenagers to AARP members.

The weather is usually sparkling in this old lumber town, now Redwood forest haven for tourists and residents, alike. Saturday morning as I walked on to the field, my compatriot remarked that they smelled something sweet and bitter in the air. I turned surprised, flared my nose and sniffed the morning ocean air without picking up the same. When I looked enquiringly, I was offered the punch line: estrogen.

Fort Bragg, named for a long-gone military outpost, tends to be a sleepy little town even in the midst of tourist season.

But this weekend – at least for me – it is turned into a both a field of battle, and a place where I intimately connect with the failings of my aging body – and frequently get yelled at for those same failings. Over the years, I have met with both victory, and defeat, nail-biting comebacks, and on-the-edge-of-your seat losses.

The trinkets I bring home don’t tell the whole story of adult women from dispirit backgrounds and philosophies who come together for two days to try and best a field of competition.

This year, the triumph was oh-so sweet. We came home with second place, but it was a second place lost in an overtime shoot out. Something to be proud of – especially considering we were playing in the “younger” over 30-league, instead of the over-40, where our roster showed we belonged.

On the way home, through the beautiful Anderson Valley, we stopped at Roederer Estate (which if you are not familiar, produces wonderful sparkling wines). Overlooking their lawn rimmed with a riot of blooming flowers and harboring a mother quail with her chicks, we tasted through five sparkling wines. I came home with three: the multi-vintage Brut MV (though the magnum aged a year longer in the bottle was hard to not purchase); the Brut Rose; and the Extra Dry Brut. I picked this one because it was created originally for the White House specifically as an after dinner toasting wine. And I had things to toast that day.

As the sun, freed from the ocean fog, bounced off the harvest fields turning to golden; as I re-lived my little wins and errors from the games; as I enjoyed the glow from the glass of champagne, the car droned down the country road toward home.

There came to me a lingering appreciation that it was another good day living in wine country; another good day in a relatively good life.

If you are interested in visiting (with or without your cleats):
The City of Fort Bragg sits amongst once dense timber lands and the lush fishing fields of the Pacific Ocean. Its weathered homes now house residents that more likely participate in the tourist trade than logging or deep sea fishing. It’s a great, low-key and connect-with-nature getaway.

Look for lodging tips, and dining ideas on Mendocino.WineCountry.com.

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