The weekend of Jan. 15–16 will be a big one for fans of Santa Cruz Santa Mountains wine, so it’s not too early to mark it on the calendar. Jan. 15 is “passport day,” in which dozens of local wineries will open their doors to visitors. Jan. 16 is a wine and crab competition at several, yet-to-be named restaurants.

At the winter passport program (11am–5pm) on Jan. 15, $40 buys entrance to more than 50 wineries, including many that are not normally open to the public. Passport holders will be invited to tour the facilities, meet the winemakers and sample the fruits of their labors, including special wines poured only for citizens the passport program. In addition, several local restaurants and wine bars will offer special discounts to passport holders on the day of the event.

Among the many participating wineries are Ahlgren Vineyard, Bonny Doon Vineyards, Cooper-Garrod Vineyards, Downhill Winery, Silver Mountain Vineyards, Soquel Vineyards, Testarossa Vineyard and Zayante Vineyards. Purchase tickets at any participating winery, online at or by calling 831.685.VINE.

Following the passport day, on Jan. 16, 2–5pm, four local restaurants will square off the for the eighth annual Wine and Crab Taste-Off in hopes of being named crab cook of the year.

All four restaurants will be preparing two crab dishes. Participants are invited to cast their votes for the best dishes. Ballots will be tallied to determine the “consumer choice awards” as well as scores from professional judges for the “judges’ choice awards.”

The cost is $49 per person for two restaurants and $16 for each additional restaurant. Go to and enter promo code GW11 for $15 off when you attend both events. Email for more information.