Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Barrel Tasting at the Mendocino Crab Wine and Beer Festival

Hungry for some crab?

It's is on the menu in Mendocino. The region is holding its annual two day crab fest and wineries in Hopland and Ukiah are participating this week by hosting a barrel tasting weekend complete with crab-wine pairings.

Each winery is offering a different take on a crab pairing, with appetizers and white wines. A few are also featuring musical entertainment.

Tickets are $20 online (a bargain) or $30 at the door (also a bargain).  For tickets, visit

Mendocino has many organically grown fine wines and table wines. Explore these top picks - my favorites are starred:

Wineries with 100% organically grown wines include:

• Barra of Mendocino*
Housed in a unique architectural setting - the former home of a sparkling wine winery, it's shaped like an upside down Champagne glass -, this is a perennial Mendo fave run by an old Italian family. The winery will be featuring two Chardonnays, accompanied by a homemade crab bisque.

• Jeriko Estate
An elegant facility.

McFadden Vineyards***
Don't miss the Chardonnay, Riesling and Pinot Gris - but best of all is the Brut! A perfect match with crab and a wine that's been winning wine competitions for years. One of my house favorites. A good wine club to join for your everyday wines and then some...even if you only want to buy a case or two (or three or more) of their Brut. Location: Cozy tasting room in downtown Hopland on 101. You can't miss it.

• Terra Savia**
This Chardonnay powerhouse - whose two Chards can be found in Whole Foods frequently - is housed in warehouse like, casual space which is also home to their olive mills. They also make sparkling wine - again a perfect pairing with crab.

Wineries with some organically grown wines include:

• Campovida***

My favorite wines from inland Mendocino come from this artisanal winery, located on a beautiful farm-winery-retreat center. Be sure to try the Grenache from Dark Horse Ranch, a wine that's on my top ten list.

• Nelson Family Vineyards*

A farming family that uniquely grows grapes on some organic and some conventionally farmed vineyards. Check out their Orange Muscat, a delicious and slightly sweet rarity.

• Saracina**

One of inland Mendocino's finest wineries, it's run by John Fetzer, who was the former president of Fetzer wines, which launched Bonterra, the country's largest organically grown wine brand. Today his focus is on artisanal wines, including some from organic vines. The Chardonnay is probably their best crab pairing.

• SIP Mendocino**

A wine shop that showcases Mendocino producers, this is the best place to shop for smaller brands like Trinafour. You can also find wines from Yorkville Highlands and Anderson Valley here (Handley's Chardonnay, or any thing from Yorkville Cellars) without having to drive out to that area on Route 128. They also see Bonterra's popular table wines.

• Testa Vineyards*

One of the most historic wineries in Mendocino, a visit to their barn is a must. Alas, the family has converted many of their historic vineyards to conventional farming, but still raises their treasured historic Charbono organically. Not the best with crab, but it's sure to find a place in your heart with other pairings.

Not on the official Barrel Tasting list, but always recommended is a trip to Ukiah Natural Foods' wine department which has the biggest selection of Mendo's organically grown wines.

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