Los Angeles Zoo Introduces Sustainable Wine+Dinner Series Celebrating Commitment To Conservation


February 24, 2017

Photo Credit: Jamie Pham


Thursday, March 16 – Sanford Winery & Vineyards (Sta. Rita Hills)
Thursday, April 27 – Malibu Family Wines (Malibu)
Thursday, May 11 – Palumbo Family Vineyards and Winery (Temecula)
6 to 9 p.m.
Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens

As part of its 50th Anniversary “Zoo-LAbration,” the Los Angeles Zoo launches the Sustainable Wine+Dinner Series to celebrate a continued commitment to conservation, with three evenings on Thursday, March 16, Thursday, April 27 and Thursday, May 11, 2017, 6 to 9 pm, at the Zoo, with others to come. The series spotlights sustainability – from agriculture to food and wine production to wildlife conservation – and each evening focuses on a different topic and features conversations with a curator or keeper, up-close animal encounters, and wine introductions by representatives from a local winery or vineyard that shares the Zoo’s commitment to sustainable living. Guests enjoy a seasonally inspired, five-course, farm-to-table dinner created by the Zoo’s executive chef, Brad Robertson, where each course is paired with wines from the evening’s featured winery. Limited to 50 guests per dinner, the intimate evenings are open to guests ages 21 and older.

“The series is a chance to showcase Southern Californian bounty in wine and food from fantastic local producers in a amazing night out in a unique and unforgettable date-night environment — and a lot of fun,” says Robertson. “I’m personally a transplant to this region, and many people take their good fortune for granted when it comes to the produce and the beautiful wines produced within driving distance of their front doors. This partnership is meant to share the many occasions when the missions of the chefs, Zoo educators, and now winemakers converge in a truly remarkable evening.”

“Chilling Out” is the theme for the Thursday, March 16 Sustainable Wine+Dinner event, held in the Cambodia viewing area of the L.A. Zoo’s magnificent Elephants of Asia habitat and featuring Sta. Rita Hills’ Sanford Winery & Vineyards. For over 40 years now, this iconic vineyard has set the standard for quality in the region and is also home to the oldest Pinot Noir vines in the county. Located 10 miles inland, Sanford benefits from its central position within the east-west traversing Santa Ynez Valley, which provides a unique pathway to the Pacific Ocean that allows cool, moist air to be drawn inland and creates perfect conditions for Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Like many amphibians, wine grape varieties can display different qualities depending upon the climate in which they’re grown, adapting to and flourishing in both warm and cool climates. During the reception, Ian Recchio, the L.A. Zoo’s Curator of Reptiles, provides fascinating details about how cold-blooded animals thrive in a range of temperatures. At the dinner, Steve Fennell, Winemaker and General Manager of Sanford Winery introduces each wine selection and discusses Sanford’s cool-climate wines along with its other sustainable initiatives.

The Thursday, April 27 Sustainable Wine+Dinner evening, themed “Happy Trails,” is set on the terraces of the L.A. Zoo’s Mahale Mountains and features Los Angeles’ own Malibu Family Wines. The Santa Monica Mountains, home to Malibu Wines’ Saddlerock Ranch, is also an important wildlife habitat. Griffith Park’s celebrity mountain lion, P-22, originated in the Santa Monica Mountains, and his story has brought much attention to the issues of habitat fragmentation and wildlife corridors. Guests at the evening enjoy wines of this biodiverse region while learning about the importance of protected migration paths for its native wildlife from conservation biologist and wildlife ecologist Anthony J. Giordano, founder and director of S.P.E.C.I.E.S., The Society for the Conservation of Endangered Carnivores.

“Birds of a Feather,” held inside the Amazonian stilt house of the L.A. Zoo’s Rainforest of the Americas on Thursday, May 11, features Temecula’s Palumbo Family Vineyards and Winery. One of the Palumbo Family Vineyards’ many commitments to sustainability is its use of Integrated Pest Management (IPM) practices. This strategy involves creating conditions that promote beneficial microbes, insects, and other organisms to reduce the need for conventional chemical pest and weed control. An important part of IPM is the presence of raptors such as owls and hawks that naturally control rodents. This special dinner experience includes a presentation by a representative of the winery and a talk by Mike Maxcy, the L.A. Zoo’s Curator of Birds, about sustainable farming practices and the importance of animals such as raptors—with an appearance by some the Zoo’s feathered residents.

Additional Sustainable Wine Dinner dates will be announced. Programs and dinner locations subject to change.

The Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens marks its 50th anniversary with a yearlong “ZooLAbration” of its November 28, 1966, opening that spotlights not only its key role as a world-class destination and an important community asset but also its critical successes in conservation, quality of life and premier care for animals. Having recently completed a $172 million Master Plan that significantly improved the Zoo facility, the 50th anniversary coincides with the early planning stages of a new Master Plan for the future. The landmark L.A. Zoo, drawing nearly 1.8 million visitors each year, is home to a diverse collection of 1,100 animals representing 250 different species, many of which are rare or endangered, as well as a botanical collection comprising over 800 different plant species with approximately 7,000 individual plants. Accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), whose members meet rigorous professional standards for animal welfare, the Zoo has achieved renown as an international leader in the preservation of endangered species and a conservation center for the care and study of wildlife. The L.A. Zoo’s lush grounds on 113 acres feature Rainforest of the Americas, an extraordinary collection of endangered and exotic mammals, reptiles, fish and amphibians living in spaces that exemplify their natural habitat in the rainforest biosphere; Chimpanzees of Mahale Mountains, home to one of the largest troops of chimpanzees in the United States; Red Ape Rain Forest, where visitors can walk among orangutans; the LAIR (Living Amphibians, Invertebrates, and Reptiles); Elephants of Asia; Campo Gorilla Reserve; and one of the largest flocks of flamingos in any zoo in the world. Among other highlights are an extraordinary, hands-on Hippo Encounter; the Winnick Family Children’s Zoo and Muriel’s Ranch animal contact area; the Tom Mankiewicz Conservation Carousel; a variety of daily opportunities to learn more about animals, including close-up visits, special feedings and intriguing talks; and much more. The private, non-profit Greater Los Angeles Zoo Association (GLAZA), which has supported the Zoo in partnership with the City of Los Angeles for more than five decades and provides funding for and operates seven essential Zoo departments, has 60,000 member households representing more than 240,000 adults and children. As evidence of the Zoo’s popularity, GLAZA attracts one of the largest membership bases of any cultural organization in Los Angeles.

Tickets to each evening in the series are $150 per person/$130 per GLAZA member. Seating is limited, and reservations are required. The event is open to adults age 21 and older.

The Los Angeles Zoo is located in Griffith Park at the junction of the Ventura (134) and Golden State (5) freeways. 5333 Zoo Drive, Los Angeles, CA 90027. Free parking is available. For tickets, call 866-949-8007 or visit https://www.lazoo.org/sustainablewinedinners/