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Did you know that 47 million turkeys, amounting to 736 million pounds of turkey, will be eaten this Thanksgiving Day? Food is a big part of every American holiday celebration. And, with consumers as busy as ever, there can also be big stress around planning and preparing a safe, happy holiday celebration.

To help take the tress out of the holiday, the non-profit Partnership for Food Safety Education is re-booting its Holiday Food Safety Success Kit to give families the resources they need to have a safe, fun, easy, and tasty holiday celebration. Now is the perfect time for holiday food preparers to be reminded of the important basics of home food safety:man with turkey Picmonkey

CLEAN: Wash hands and surfaces often

SEPARATE: Don't cross-contaminate

COOK: Cook to proper temperatures

CHILL: Refrigerate promptly

The Holiday Food Safety Success Kit at www.holidayfoodsafety.org provides food safety advice and meal planning in one convenient location. The kit includes information on purchasing, thawing and cooking a turkey; a holiday planner with menus, timelines, and shopping lists; and dozens of delicious (and food safe) recipes. The kit also includes arts and crafts activities and downloads for kids so they can join in on the holiday fun. All downloads at www.holidayfoodsafety.org are free.

“Bacteria never take a holiday, so it’s important to be mindful this Thanksgiving of the four core messages of food safety in preparing your holiday meal – clean, separate, cook, and chill” said Shelley Feist, Executive Director of the non-profit Partnership for Food Safety Education. “Holiday Food Safety is a valuable resource for all home chefs this Thanksgiving.”

Home chefs have even more resources at their fingertips for specific or hard-to-answer food preparation and safety questions. Advice from the USDA meat and poultry hotline is just a phone call away at 1-888-MPHOTLINE (1-888-674-6854). The hotline operates Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. ET, and will operate on Thanksgiving Day from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. ET. Consumers can also “Ask Karen,” the FSIS virtual representative available 24 hours a day, at AskKaren.gov.

The Partnership’s website at www.fightbac.org includes dozens of downloads on safe food handling.

Sonoma County was named the top wine destination in the U.S. by TripAdvisor's Travelers' Choice Awards in October, 2012

According to TripAdvisor, award winners were determined based on their popularity as wine destinations, taking into account travelers' reviews and opinions for local wineries, restaurants, attractions and accommodations.

Rounding out the top 10 were Napa Valley, Calif., Willamette Valley, Ore., Finger Lakes, NY, Long Island, NY, Paso Robles, Calif., Temecula Valley, Calif., Walla Walla, Wash., Palisade, Colo., and Plymouth, Calif.mixed group wine tasters in Sonoma Picmonkey

Sonoma County, located 30 miles from San Francisco, provides an adventurous wine country experience, featuring more than 370 wineries, 100-plus organic farms, and 55 miles of Pacific coast.

"Sonoma County may not produce as much wine as nearby Napa, but what it lacks in volume, it more than makes up for in variety," stated TripAdvisor. "You'll find everything from Chardonnay to Zinfandel here, and TripAdvisor travelers love the laid-back, unpretentious vibe of the wineries. After a strenuous day of wine-tasting, spoil yourself at one of the many local spas."

Ken Fischang, president/CEO of Sonoma County Tourism, said, "This honor shows that Sonoma County is a world-class wine region. Millions of users of TripAdvisors have recognized us for the authentic experiences we provide to independent and adventurous travelers. We are very thankful to all those TripAdvisor users who selected Sonoma County as the top wine country in the United States."

Sonoma County provides a genuine, independent, and adventurous wine country experience. Travelers find millions of reasons to visit Sonoma County, including 1 million acres of pristine, rugged land, more than 370 wineries, 55 miles of stunning Pacific coast, over 40 spas, dozens of regional and state parks, and 500-plus eateries.

"Sonoma County is inviting, open and welcoming," said Tim Zahner, director of public relations and marketing for Sonoma County Tourism. "I think the savvy travelers of TripAdvisor recognized that and it is reflected in what they say about us. From the slopes of the Mayacamas to the redwood forests to the beaches along the Pacific coastline, we offer new experiences around every corner and small towns worth discovering."


TravMedia sources contributed to this article.


Editor's note: Visitors to Sonoma County can access links to the websites of all the wineries there, as well as sites of hundreds of Lodging and Dining options in Taste California Travel's Resource Directory. Also in that section is a new directory of hundreds of California brewpubs and other craft beer-oriented businesses.

E Fork Trinity River PicmonkeyE Fork Trinity River near China Creek junctureWine is rarely made, today, without electricity to power crushers, wine presses, pumps, bottling equipment and lighting. However, for one Northern California winery being off the grid comes naturally.

Alpen Cellars, in the Trinity Lakes grape-growing area of the vast Shasta Cascade region of northeast California, gets its power from China Creek, a stream that crosses its property on its course to the east fork of the Trinity River. The winery is located on a 300-acre ranch, ten miles from the nearest source of power. “Power lines ran out here a hundred years ago,” said Winemaker Keith Groves, “and after that ended, we started generating our own hydroelectric power.

“China Creek runs year round, providing reliable power, though the amount of electricity we generate varies according to runoff. At max, we get 3.5 kilowatts of power,” said Winemaker Keith Groves, who with his father, Mark; mother, B.J.; and wife, Bonnie; produce Chardonnay, white Riesling, Gewürztraminer, Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, Merlot and Lemberger/Blaufrankisch varietals.

“We’re known for our Riesling which has scents of apricots and ripe peaches, though chardonnay is our best-selling wine. It represents about a third of the 5,000 cases we produce,” Groves said. Established in 1984, Alpen Cellars now distributes its varietal wines to shops from Eureka west to Burney Falls and from the Oregon border south to Corning; selections are sold in such well-known outlets as Costco and Safeway. “We’re also distributed from San Francisco south to Santa Cruz,” Groves added.

Many Alpen Cellars wines have won awards, including its Blaufrankisch which won double gold at the California State Fair. Described as Alpen Cellar’s “richest red,” Blaufrankisch is said to “start with crisp cherries and finish with ripe blueberries, lingering soft tannins coat the palate.”Alpen Cellars Vineyard PicmonkeyAlpen Cellars Vineyard at 2400-ft elevation

The 40-some wineries within the Shasta-Cascade Viticulture Association (Alpen Cellars among them) have won 67 international medals and awards in the past two years, which SCVA president Greg Butler says compares favorably with other California wine-making regions.

Estate wines are grown on 17 acres at Alpen Cellars with additional grapes coming from eight acres within Trinity County. One Maple Vineyard (Lewiston) and Alpen Cellars are the only winemakers within the Trinity Lakes AVA, one of two American Viticultural Areas in the Shasta Cascade region.

Renewable energy isn’t the only aspect of Alpen Cellars that’s sustainable. Groves said, “Most wineries chill their wines with a lot of refrigeration, we use ice-cold water from underground springs, instead.” Of all wineries in the vast Shasta Cascade region, Alpen Cellars is the only one that’s completely off the grid.

Alpen Cellars is open for public tastings from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Memorial Day through Labor Day, and by appointment thereafter. Directions to the winery are found at www.alpencellars.com or call (530) 266-9513. Wine tasting can also be experienced throughout the Shasta Cascade region with concentrations of wineries near Manton, Oroville and Chico. Moseley Family Cellars offers tastings at their location in downtown Redding.

Editor's note: This article also appears in the Wine section of Taste California Travel.


Planning a trip anywhwere the beautiful Shasta-Cascade region? You'll find links to the websites of many Lodging and Dining opportunities, as well as links to wineries and craft beer purveyors at the Resource Directory of Taste California Travel.

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