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Mendocino crab fest celebrates seafood, wine and beer

As the 1.8 million yearly visitors to sprawling Mendocino County well know, that part of California is renowned for its seafood, wine, cheese and produce, as well as its dramatic coastline and redwood forests.

In celebration of that bounty comes the 15th annual Crab, Wine and Beer Festival, Jan. 17-26. Locally harvested Dungeness crabs and other seafood will join locally produced reds, whites and rosés from 10 American Viticultural Areas, and craft beers from Mendocino County’s many breweries. It’s a program of dining and sipping that attracts foodies from around the U.S. and beyond.

Festival events will be held in various venues around Mendocino County and are priced a la carte. Highlights will include crab-themed dinners, winemaker dinners, winery and brewery tours, a family-style cioppino feed, barrel tastings, food-and-drink pairings, competitions and crabbing excursions with local fishermen.

Also: whale-watching expeditions, bicycle trips through redwood forests, canoeing, art exhibits and live entertainment.

Each year, the centerpiece is the Crab Cake Cook-Off and Wine Tasting Competition, at which the county's top chefs pair their creations with wines from 20-plus wineries.

For a calendar of events and lodging packages: www.visitmendocino.com/crabfestival, (866) 782-9636.

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