Special Feature: Products Sally Recommends

Mendocino Whale and Wine Festival

by Sally Bernstein

The Mendocino Whale and Wine Festival is in its 22nd year. Each year 22,000 Gray Whales migrate close to shore. This event is held in the beautiful village of Mendocino in Northern California each year in March. It is a festive event with not only whale watching, but also wine tasting, gallery perusing and eating. Imagine wine tasting this year in elegant shops and galleries just steps from the dramatic Pacific Ocean cliffs. More than 15 Mendocino wineries brought their unique vintages for tasting to the galleries, shops and inns. There was a free trolley that made the rounds to the various events, including a chowder tasting, Ford House Museum exhibits, an arts and crafts fair, a woodworking exhibit, a BBQ and an artist showcase. Pt. Cabrillo Lighthouse & Preserve, just a short drive north of Mendocino, hosted activities for the young and old alike, from games to educational guided whale walks.

You can also see the gray whales off a charter boat from Noyo Harbor in Ft. Bragg. Saturday night at Crown Hall in Mendocino was a live music concert featuring Foxglove, a local acoustic group with great harmony singing.

After a delightful Mexican food lunch at Libby’s in Philo, we arrived at our B&B for the weekend. The Packard House is one of four landmark homes on “Executive Row” in the village of Mendocino. It is a “Carpenter Gothic” Victorian built in 1878 and is centrally located so that we could walk to shops, restaurants and the ocean. Attention to detail is the name of the game here, from the elegantly decorated rooms to the delightful full breakfast served at 9:00 a.m. each morning. Freshly baked goods, fruits, coffees and teas complimented the French toast with apples one morning and the cheese soufflé another day. Other indulgences are fireplaces in each of the 6 rooms, private baths with jet tubs, and wine and cheese served in the late afternoon, so we could mingle with the other guests. Room views are either ocean or village/garden views.

Friday night we drove north to Ft. Bragg to eat at Mendo Bistro. Located “Upstairs at the Company Store” on Main Street, Mendo Bistro offers reasonable priced fresh fish, pastas and meats. One way to order is to choose your ingredient from the list on the menu: chicken, pork loin, fish, portobello mushroom, tofu or beef. Then choose how you want it cooked: roasted, grilled, sautéed, batter fried or braised. Lastly you choose what sauce you want: marsala-hot pepper, barbecue, roasted garlic gravy, Dijon-tarragon cream, charmoula, lemon-garlic butter or soy-ginger. What a fun way to order. Owner Nicholas Petti is known for his award winning crab cakes and as the menu says “We welcome well behaved children and parents.” If you find yourself in Ft. Bragg between 5-9 at dinnertime, do stop by.

Saturday night we dined at the MacCallum House Restaurant in the village of Mendocino, which is part of the MacCallum House Inn. Open for breakfast and dinner, the MacCallum House was built in 1882 and was constructed in what was then called “pointed style” cottage. Chef Alan Kantor’s food showcases North Coast wines, seafoods, meats and produce with an emphasis on organics and quality purveyors. I began my meal with grilled asparagus and radicchio with a Meyer lemon gremolata appetizer while my husband enjoyed the broiled Pacific Rim oysters with Little River skiitake duxelles. Entrees were caramelized day boat scallops and roasted Rosie organic chicken. These were very good but it was the dessert that was very special. Ordered with the meal by request, the honey tangerine soufflé with Grand Marnier caramel and candied citrus peel would have been worth any wait. I can’t remember when I’ve had such a silky dessert.

If you want to journey through the redwoods and visit the Mendocino wineries in style, check out Mendo Wine Tours and Limousine Service. VIP tours, gourmet picnic lunches, winery tours, and discounted pricing on your wine purchases are all available.

And if you need general information about other Mendocino activities, contact the Mendocino County Alliance in Ukiah. They promote area lodging, wineries, dining, the arts and food producers, just to name a few.

Enjoy the beauty of Mendocino!

Whale and Wine Festival
Mendocino Coast Chamber of Commerce

8651 Highway 128
Philo, CA 95466

Packard House
Bed & Breakfast
45170 Little Lake Street
Mendocino, CA 95460

Mendo Bistro
301 North Main Street
Fort Bragg, CA 95437

MacCallum House Inn & Restaurant
45020 Albion Street
P.O. Box 206
Mendocino, CA 95460

Mendo Wine Tours & Limousine Service

Mendocino County Alliance
(official Mendocino County visitor information)
525 S. Main Street, Suite E
Ukiah, CA 95482

Note: This information was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the businesses in question before making your plans.

Share this article with a friend:

Free eNewsletter SignUp

Sally's Place on Facebook    Sally Bernstein on Instagram    Sally Bernstein at Linked In

Global Resources

Handmade Chocolates, Lillie Belle Farms

Food411 Food Directory