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Santa Barbara Zoo After Hours Events Offer Wine, Giraffes, Music and More

Sunset sippers enjoy selections of wine and beer while taking a ride on the Zoo Train. Click to view larger
Sunset sippers enjoy selections of wine and beer while taking a ride on the Zoo Train. (Santa Barbara Zoo photo)

Guests can drink in the view — and a sampling of local wines — at Sunset Sips, four evening summer events held at the Santa Barbara Zoo’s scenic hilltop on the third Thursday of the month from June through September.

This year brings more local wineries, more live music, more tasty treats and more art by local artists. New this year are “The Wine Down,” post-Sips talks by local food and wine experts.

Sunset Sips are held from 5:30-7:30 p.m., followed by the Wine Down talk until 8 p.m., Thursday, June 16, July 21, Aug. 18 and Sept. 15.

Tickets are $30, and are sold online at and at the door the night of the event. The event is for ges 21 and older, and no children will be admitted.

“The Zoo’s hilltop is such a lovely spot to relax and enjoy long summer twilights,” says Rich Block, Zoo CEO. “Just like our Zoo Brew and Roar & Pour Wine Festivals, here’s a time to gather, enjoy an adult beverage and take in the beauty of the Zoo as the sun goes down. And yes, drinks are allowed on the Zoo Train!”

In addition to tastings of wine, beer, hard cider and sparkling wines, each evening also includes appetizers, live music, a mini art exhibit by a local artist, plus a giraffe feeding, Zoo Train ride and GO VINO commemorative glass.

Couches and a lounge-like setting on the Zoo’s scenic hilltop provide a comfortable place to enjoy the libations and panoramic views of the ocean, mountains and city. 

The wineries pouring at June’s Sunset Sips include Barefoot Wine, Cebada Wines and DV8 Cellars, and music will be provided by Bamblume. Artwork that will be on view has been created by the Zoo’s animals and is available for sale, with all proceeds benefiting the Zoo.

The first Wine Down talk will take place in the Palm Garden with Nicholas Wigle of Super Bee Rescue, who will discuss beekeeping and offer tastings of honey mead.

Future Wine Down speakers include Wes Hagen of J. Wilkes Wines, who will discuss how wine is responsible for modern science and how animals in the wild get intoxicated; the founders of Le Sorelle of Italy, who will reveal secrets of olive oil production and offer samples on homemade bread; and Sandy Newman, winemaker and owner of Cebada Wines, who will talk about organic berry farming and port-making.

Julia McHugh is the director of public relations at the Santa Barbara Zoo.

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