As part of its 50th Anniversary "Zoo-LAbration," the Los Angeles Zoo continues its Sustainable Wine+Dinner Series to celebrate an ongoing commitment to conservation, with three upcoming evenings on Thursday, April 27, Thursday, May 11, and Thursday, June 8, 2017, 6 to 9 pm, at the Zoo. 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 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.
The "Happy Trails" menu begins with popcorn shrimp ceviche, gorgonzola dulce arancini, and chilled breakfast radishes with prosciutto butter, paired with 2015 Semler Rose. Next, guests are served a tomato tart with pea shoots, basil, smoky eggplant and yogurt alongside 2015 Saddlerock Sauvignon Blanc. The main courses include duck breast with beets, spring onions, fennel purree and honey gastrique, paired with 2014 Semler King of the Mountains Cuvee, and braised beef cheek with confit potatoes, watercress and melted cippolinis, paired with 2013 Semler Malbec. For dessert, guests can indulge in buttermilk panna cotta with strawberry-thyme jam, vanilla mousse and pie crumble, complemented by NV Saddlerock Sparkling Brut.
"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.