Star Report

The Santa Ynez Valley can get pretty hot during the summer, so a good idea to escape the heat for a date-night is to escape to the Santa Barbara Zoo for Sunset Sips, a four-evening summer event held at the Zoo’s scenic hilltop on the third Thursday of 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 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., followed by the Wine Down talk until 8 p.m., on Thursday, June 18July 16, and August 20. Tickets are $30, and are sold online at and at the door the night of the event. Ages 21 and older only, no children.

“The Zoo’s hilltop is such a lovely spot to relax and enjoy long summer twilights. Just like our Zoo Brew and Roar and 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,” said Rich Block, Zoo CEO.

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, DV8 Cellars, and music is provided by Bamblume. Artwork on view that evening has been created by the Zoo’s animals, and is available for sale, with all proceeds benefitting the Zoo.

New this year: animal, food, and wine experts speak on a variety of topics in “The Wine Down” immediately following the events, approximately 7:30 to 8 p.m., in the Palm Garden. The schedule is as follows, subject to change:

June 16 – Nicholas Wigle of Super Bee Rescue discusses beekeeping and offers tastings of honey mead.

July 21 – Wes Hagen of J. Wilkes Wines discusses how wine is responsible for modern science, and how animals in the wild get intoxicated.

August 18 – the founders of Le Sorelle of Italy reveal secrets of olive oil production and offer samples on homemade bread.

September 15 – Sandy Newman, winemaker and owner of Cebada Wines, about their organic berry farming and port-making.

For tickets to Sunset Sips, log onto for more information.