It’s time to make plans to explore the many culinary delights offered throughout the Golden State in 2020.
Some food festivals sell out well in advance. Now is the time to make your travel and lodging plans for a stress-free foodie experience.
Here’s a roundup of a few of the “best” California food and wine festivals, as deemed by national culinary experts.
Jan. 24-Feb. 2
Mendocino Crab & Wine Days
Among the nation’s top seafood and wine festivals, this 10-day food celebration coincides with winter’s Dungeness crab season. Events include numerous all-you-can-eat crab feeds, winemaker dinners, crab cruises, cooking classes, family-style cioppino feeds and a crab cake cook-off contest. Special events include: Crab and sake dinner at the Little River Inn, Crab & Crémant on the scenic Skunk Train, barrel tastings, farm-to-table wine pairings and winemaker dinners.
The 39th Annual Santa Cruz Clam Chowder Cook Off & Festival
Join talented chefs from throughout Northern California as they compete for the glory of the “Best Clam Chowder.” More than just a culinary competition, the fun event has featured participants dressed as scuba divers, mermaids, and even as a clam fairy. Admission is free; visitors may purchase Tasting Kits ($10) to sample five different chowders.
Feb. 28-April 21
Disney California Adventure
Food and Wine Festival
You might not think of going to a food festival at a theme park, but the Disney Resorts California Adventure event earns high marks for creativity and quality. In addition to tasty bites and wine and beer tasting, the festival includes live entertainment and family friendly programming, including Jammin’ Chefs, Jr. Chef, Family Time with Daniella Malfitano, craft stations throughout the festival and culinary demonstrations. Disney and celebrity chefs will be featured on weekends.
The 10th Annual Palm Desert
Food & Wine Festival
This festival includes mouth-watering eats, premium wines, hands-on cooking demonstrations and a roster of the nation’s top chefs, vintners and brewmasters, including Carla Hall, Elizabeth Falkner and Curtis Stone. The fête begins with a James Beard Gourmet Four-Course Luncheon prepared by culinary virtuosos and will be followed by two days of grand tastings and a chance to sample more than 60 wines, unique craft brews, IPAs and draught ciders.
Pebble Beach Food and Wine Festival
The Pebble Beach Food and Wine is the premier epicurean lifestyle event held on the West Coast, matching 250 acclaimed wineries and 100 celebrity chefs to create a four-day “foodie” destination on one of the most picturesque strips of coastline in the world. Throughout the long weekend, enjoy intimate access to the pinnacle of culinary and wine talent at wine tastings, cooking demos and some of the most exclusive, unique dining opportunities available in the world. It’s all held at venues around Pebble Beach, located between Monterey and Carmel.
California Wine Festival Dana Point
The quintessential California wine tasting experience with sun, sea, food, wine and music, all comes together at this sun-splashed wine fest overlooking the beach in palm-lined Lantern Bay Park in Dana Point in Orange County. Wine lovers find hundreds of fine wines, regional craft brews and a dizzying variety of foods to sample in the Camelot-like white-topped tent village next to the Pacific Ocean. Artisanal cheeses, breads, olive oil, as well as shellfish, salads, chocolates, cakes and live entertainment make this an all-day feast for the senses.
Annual Long Beach Crawfish Festival
The Long Beach Crawfish Festival serves up Cajun Crawfish dinners in the world’s largest crawfish pots. The feasts include red baby potatoes, corn on the cob and remoulade dipping sauce. Dance to rousing Cajun and Zydeco bands, join the Second Line Dancing Parade and enjoy the food, beach bars and culture of the Big Easy at the nation’s largest Crawfish Festival experience outside of Louisiana.
Annual Artichoke Food & Wine Festival
Travel to Castroville, near Monterey, for everything artichoke. Includes: Agro art competition, parade, live music and children’s activities. Artichokes fried, sautéed, grilled, marinated, pickled, fresh and creamed in soup. Cooking demos, wine tasting, farmer’s market, arts, crafts and field tours to the artichoke patch.
Festival Napa Valley
This annual celebration of food and wine offers a variety of events, including classical music. The highlight of the Festival is the Taste of Napa event which features food, wine and live entertainment.