Bay Area wine, spirits and beer events: Dec. 17 and beyond

Sunday Featured Food Pairings: Join Las Positas Vineyards for chocolate truffle and wine pairings from 11:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Sundays, Dec. 17-31, 1828 Wetmore Road, Livermore. $10-$25. laspositasvineyards.com.

Zinfandel Experience: Three-day wine and culinary extravaganza showcases winemakers, chefs and artisanal food purveyors. Experience the classic character of zinfandel at four events featuring a diverse selection of wines and styles. Among the locations: One Market, Bently Reserve and Pier 27 in San Francisco, Jan. 18-20. Prices vary. www.zinfandelexperience.com.

Cocktails 101: Learn the history and the evolution of cocktails and all the basics for their preparation. Then, make (and drink) three styles of classic cocktails, exploring their base structural nature and how to apply that to making your own cocktails at home. 7-9 p.m. Dec. 20. Bourbon & Branch, 501 Jones St., San Francisco. $100. http://www.beverageacademy.com/cocktails-101.

Bourbon, Rye and Beyond: Sip through a flight of whiskey while learning the history of whiskey making in America, from 1776 to its current renaissance. 7-10 p.m. Dec. 26. Bourbon & Branch, 501 Jones St., San Francisco. $100. http://bit.ly/2BSEuW9.

Winter WINEland: Visit Northern Sonoma wineries, meet wine makers and taste special wines. Participating wineries will highlight a vintage, varietal or vertical tasting for the weekend. 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Jan. 13-14. $25-$48.88; designated drivers $5.43. www.wineroad.com.

Concannon Vineyard and Livermore Wine Trolley: This festive experience of lights, bites and flights begins at Concannon Vineyard with a one-hour tasting reception of holiday wines paired with appetizers. Then board the Livermore Wine Trolley for a tour of Livermore’s most dazzling holiday displays. 5:30 and 7:30 p.m. Dec. 14-23. Concannon Vineyard, 4590 Tesla Road, Livermore. $5-$60. www.concannonvineyard.com.

Winter in the Wineries Passport: Passport holders tour, taste, and meet winemakers at more than a dozen of Calistoga’s boutique and well-known wineries including …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Lifestyle

Travel Troubleshooter: Construction noise ruined my Sandals vacation in Barbados

Dear Travel Troubleshooter: My husband and I stayed at a Sandals Resort in Barbados the week of June 4. Major construction was going on at the resort, and it was not disclosed to me. It carried on from early in the morning until dinner time. There was not a location at the resort where you could escape the loud noise. We tried to make the best of the situation; we used ear plugs and finally resorted to listening to music played very loudly with earphones to try to drown out the construction noise.

It was a very stressful vacation. We had a challenging year and were very much looking forward to this respite. If we had known of the construction, we would have selected an alternative Sandals location.

During our stay, we spoke to a customer representative who told us that our complaint would be registered and that the director of guest services would contact us within one to two days. We had to follow up with her, and she told us that the company could not respond to our complaint until after we had settled the bill and were home.

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Once we arrived home, we followed up with her and were told that a “ticket” was opened on our behalf. We were offered two free …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Lifestyle

Disney’s iconic California Screamin’ roller coaster will close, then reopen with new name and theme

The existing California Screamin' coaster will close down Jan. 8 and be rethemed as the Incredicoaster.

There might still be screaming going on inside Disney California Adventure , but it won’t be coming from the iconic California Screamin’ roller coaster, which is being shut down for a makeover into a new attraction called “The Incredicoaster.” Its last day of operation will be Jan. 7, when it will close along with much of its surrounding Paradise Pier.

This remake will keep the existing structure, but add new elements themed to the superhero family of characters from the popular Incredibles movie, which has a sequel coming out in summer 2018.

California Screamin’ was built from steel and opened with the new park in 2001. It was designed to resemble an old-fashioned wooden coaster from pleasure piers of the 1920s. It has more than 1 mile of track, and takes riders from 0 to 55 mph in only four seconds.

“The Screamin’ had no real theme, so adding a property that people know should be popular,” said Dusty Sage, who runs the MiceChat fan blog. “It was a popular coaster before, and it should continue to be. I don’t really see a downside to it.”

The existing California Screamin’ coaster will close down Jan. 8 and be rethemed as the Incredicoaster.

The latest details from the notoriously tight-lipped Disney folks are that the Incredicoaster will offer a “high speed new experience featuring characters from ‘The Incredibles.’”

The Incredible Parr family, a humorous collection of superheroes, each with special gifts, will race alongside guests during the attraction, trying to catch their baby Jack-Jack.

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Source:: The Mercury News – Lifestyle

A baby was born with her heart outside her body — and survived

Three-week-old Vanellope Hope Wilkins who was born with an extremely rare condition in which the heart grows on the outside of the body, at Glenfield Hospital in Leicester, Monday Dec. 11, 2017. (Ben Birchall/PA via AP)

By Lindsey Bever | Washington Post

Immediately after Vanellope Hope Wilkins was born, she was put in sterile plastic to protect her heart — which was beating outside her tiny chest.

It was a moment that her parents, Dean Wilkins and Naomi Findlay, had hoped for but were not certain would actually come — a moment in which their baby girl would come into the world, and live.

The newborn, who was born Nov. 22 at Glenfield Hospital in Leicester, England, was delivered by Caesarean section several weeks premature with a rare and often fatal congenital condition called ectopia cordis, in which the heart is growing either completely or partially outside the chest cavity. Most babies born with the malformation are stillborn or they do not survive long after birth.

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“It was overwhelming, wasn’t it?” Wilkins, from Bulwell, Nottingham, recently asked Findlay about the birth of their first child, according to BBC News.

“It was very overwhelming,” she agreed.

“Especially the part where we were just staring at each other because we didn’t want to be told what was happening while it was happening. But, as soon as we heard her cry, that was it,” Wilkins said, turning toward Findlay. “We had a little cry, didn’t we?”

She started: “It’s like we held our breath through it all -”

“For her,” Wilkins added, talking about their daughter.

The details came in a statement Wednesday from the University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust, where dozens of doctors, nurses and clinical staffers worked together late last month to deliver Vanellope and give her a chance to live. A pediatric cardiologist there said the newborn may become the first to survive the condition in the United Kingdom.

In June, Wilkins and Findlay learned …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Health

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