Mendocino Mushrooms. That’s a colorful statement. You might not think so until you’ve tromped through the redwood forests of Mendocino and have seen firsthand what a kaleidoscope of mushrooms there are in this world. Let me tell you, it’s a magical experience. And yes we saw “magic” mushrooms too.
I’ve just returned from 5 days on the Mendocino coast. It was a sponsored trip, and a chance to visit the Mendocino Beer, Wine and Mushroom Festival. It’s a yearly event and one that you should add to your bucket list.
Mendocino County is home to more than 3,000 kinds of mushrooms. The autumn rains each year awaken more than 500 types of edible Mendocino mushrooms. The festival is a great time for locals and visitors alike to take a hike, grab the Skunk Train, or even jump onto a horse and track down coveted mushroom varieties like chanterelle, porcini, morel, and the rare, maple-scented candy cap. We saw so many varieties on our mushroom walk through Jug Handle State Natural Reserve that I can’t begin to count them.
Of course, if you’re more culinarily inclined you can just sit back and have the best of them served to you on a plate by participating in mushroom-themed dinners, wine, and beer pairings, or cooking classes at many of the nearby hotels, restaurants, and wineries.
The festival is also a great time to get to know the Mendocino coast and the beautiful wine country of Anderson Valley.
I enjoyed staying at the Mallory House– located on the edge of the bluffs overlooking the ocean– and just one of the many beautiful lodging options at the 150-year-old Little River Inn. Our room, the grounds, and of course the famous Mendocino views were spectacular. We also had several great meals in the Inn’s restaurant and spent a bit of time on an ocean view barstool at Ole’s Whale Watch Bar. Because it was the Mushroom Festival, the hotel’s Chef Marc Dym also put together a special mushroom dinner and paired each delicious course with beer from the Russian River Brewing Company.
Of course, there was wine tasting on this trip too. Particular standouts include the Navarro Vineyards and Winery white wines in the Alsatian style, a Baxter Pinot Noir that knocked my socks off, and an idyllic afternoon spent in the organic gardens while sipping another excellent Pinot Noir from the brand new tasting room at Lula Cellars.
Expect much more about these aspects of the trip soon. This post is all about the mushrooms. I’ve included quite a few pictures of some of the mushrooms we encountered. More pictures than I typically include in one post– but I just couldn’t help myself. It seems mushrooms are very photogenic. Some of these beauties are edible, some are poisonous and some are simply categorized as not recommended. I believe those “magic” mushrooms I mentioned officially fall into the “not recommended” category.
Whichever category they fall into, I’m sure you’ll agree Mendocino mushrooms are beautiful. However, I’ve decided not to identify any of the mushrooms I photographed. I’m not an expert and I wouldn’t want you to use this site or these pictures to identify any of the Mendocino mushrooms you may come across. That is what experts are for. The festival’s website can hook you up with a Mendocino mushrooms expert of your own. I shouldn’t have to say this, but I will. NEVER eat a mushroom you can’t positively identify. GREG
Stunning photos — I have never seen so many varieties of fungi! You are wise not to attempt to identify them — I’m trying to remember what those magic mushrooms looked like 😉 The Wine & Mushroom Festival is something I definitely have to do.
Why, yes, these little fungi are quite photogenic, and you did them proud!
Wow, I knew you were a fun-gi, but these photos prove it!
Great photos, Greg! I don’t think I’ve ever seen such beautiful fungi.
For some reason this post reminds me of the classic 80’s arcade game — Centipede.
What an absolutely gorgeous trip. That one orange mushroom.…wow!
That must have been a *mystical* fun time. Love the pics.
Greg, these photos are magnificent! Who knew mushrooms were so photogenic! These need to be framed *and* they need to be published in a book! (I’m going a little crazy with the exclamation points, I know, but I am really excited about this post!)
What beautiful photographs. They look like fantasy creatures! It sounds like you had a marvelous time, and the festival sounds fab.
What great photos! You must have a good camera. 😀 Sounds like a fun trip. I’ve never been to Mendocino — sounds like I need to get there. Thanks.
I have always wanted to visit Mendocino and I have always wanted to pick mushrooms. Colorado has some good ones-but you are right. I tried to convince my husband that we should go mushroom hunting and he looked at me with alarm. OK, I didn’t, but it sure looks like fun. And as for those magic ones-well, let;s just say that was long, long time ago! And I remember!
Greg, these photos are stunning. Beautiful! What a trip. I don’t get to California much, but I am putting the LIttle River Inn on my list. And the festival. I have always wanted to take a course on mushroom foraging but have yet to get around to it. You’re right to be cautious about identifying them ~ these pretty little things can be deadly. Did you read about how Nicholas Evans, the author of The Horse Whisperer, nearly died after mistakenly eating poisonous mushrooms? Pretty scary, but I still want to learn how to forage. Cheers, D
Greg: you should seriously frame some of these beautiful images of these colorful and whimsical mushrooms you’ve captured. I luv photographing mushrooms — they have such a short lifespan, though. So interesting! The Wine & Mushroom Fest is on my list of need-to-do’s, now! 🙂