7th Annual Crab & Chardonnay Fete

Last Friday, we held the 7th Annual Crab & Chardonnay Fete at the Kendall-Jackson Wine Center. We steamed more than 120 live Dungeness crabs from the California coast. The crabs taste great this year with really sweet meat. (Chef Andrei claims that the meat is extra sweet because the crabs are feisty – one actually tried to jump out of the cooler and attack him!)

We had the pleasure of hosting just over 80 people for dinner … and everyone had a lot of fun. This year the evening began with passed and plated hors d’oeuvres, which included Dungeness Crab Cakes, Crab and Pumpkin Bisque and Chef Eric’s amazing Crab & Artichoke Dip. (See the recipe below.)

I was especially excited this year, because we served four different Kendall-Jackson Chardonnay releases: our new crisp & fresh Avant Chardonnay, the traditional Vintner’s Reserve Chardonnay, the rich & buttery Jackson Hills Chardonnay and my personal favorite, Highland Estates Camelot Highlands Chardonnay. They all tasted fantastic with the crab, Caesar salad, roasted potato wedges seasoned with Old Bay and Chef Eric’s fresh baked sourdough baguettes.

It was a real treat to serve a variety of fun Chardonnays that pleased every palate and paired wonderfully with the assortment of foods. Our wine club members actually rated the wines with the crab. Their favorite was Highland Estates Camelot Highlands Chardonnay. The second-place winner was the new Avant Chardonnay.

Fresh Vegetables from the Kendall-Jackson Garden

We also served fresh vegetables from our garden, which included rainbow carrots, purple-topped turnips and red, golden & Chioggia beets. We roasted all the vegetables to caramelize the natural sugars and they were simply delicious.

For dessert, our pastry chef Robert “Buttercup” Nieto made Meyer Lemon Bars with Candied Pine Nuts & Lime Powder to serve with our Late Harvest Chardonnay. As always, Buttercup’s dessert was the perfect ending to an extraordinary meal.

Chef Eric’s Crab & Artichoke Dip
Chef Eric Frischkorn

  • 8 ounces fresh crab meat
  • 8 ounces cream cheese
  • ¼ cup sour cream
  • 2 Tbsp. mayonnaise
  • ½ lemon, zested and juiced
  • 1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • ½ tsp. Coleman’s mustard powder
  • 1/8 tsp. garlic powder
  • Dash of Tabasco sauce
  • 2 tsp. kosher salt
  • Pinch of white pepper, finely ground
  • ¼ cup Bellwether Farms Carmody cheese or other mild cow’s milk cheese, grated
  • 12 ounces artichoke hearts (fresh, canned or frozen), rough chopped

For the topping:

  • 1/8 C. clarified butter
  • 1½ tsp. fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 cup panko bread crumbs


  1. Preheat the oven to 350°.
  2. Pick through the crab and remove any cartilage.
  3. In a large bowl, mix cream cheese, sour cream, mayonnaise, lemon zest and juice, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, garlic powder, Tabasco, salt and white pepper.
  4. Mix until smooth.
  5. Fold in cheese, crab and artichokes to the cream cheese mixture, being careful not to break up the crab meat.
  6. In a separate bowl, combine the melted clarified butter, parsley and bread crumbs.
  7. Transfer the crab mixture to a 1-quart casserole dish and top with bread crumb mixture.
  8. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes until the dip is bubbling and golden brown.

For more of Chef Justin’s Crab Recipes, check out Variation On A Crab Dinner, from the Press Democrat.