2019 Wine in the Wilderness FAQ

May 31, 2019



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Wine in the Wilderness has become a staple on the first weekend of June. More than 2000 people attend Wine in the Wilderness and those folks can’t be wrong, especially 20 years in the making. Whether you are a 20-year veteran, or this is your first year at Wine in the Wilderness, we have some answers to some very pressing questions.

What is Wine in the Wilderness?

Wine in the Wilderness is one of our major fundraisers throughout the year. As a 501(c)3 not for profit organization, we rely on fundraising, donations, and admission costs to operate and continuously care for our animals. We invite several wineries and vendors to attend every year to not only supply the wine and snacks but also to show off the great work that our NYS partners are doing. Wine in the Wilderness is a great way to enjoy the Zoo in an adults-only atmosphere, try some new wines, check out some interesting vendors, and generally just enjoy the early summer weather.

Can I come to the Zoo during the day and stay for Wine in the Wilderness?

Because we have alot of things to set up and finalize, the Utica Zoo will close at 1pm on June 1st to allow our final preparations. All visitors will be required to exit at this time. To be able to enter the Zoo for Wine in the Wilderness, all attendees MUST have a ticket or purchase one at the gate. Prior entry to the Zoo is not an acceptable ticket form.

How much are tickets?

Pre-sale tickets are currently on sale. Utica Zoo Members can purchase pre-sale tickets for $35, $40 at the door. Not-yet members can purchase General Admission pre-sale tickets for $40, $45 at the door, and Designated Drivers can purchase tickets for $25 in advance or at the door. Be advised, DD ticket holders will not be permitted to consume alcohol and will not be given a wine glass until the end of the event, while supplies last.

Want to save some cash? Become a Utica Zoo Member! Members receive free admission to the Utica Zoo for one year, free or discounted admission to over 170 Zoos, Aquariums, and Conservation centers across the U.S., discounted tickets to signature events and much more! Visit UticaZoo.org/membership to become a member today!

Where can I purchase pre-sale tickets?

Facebook event page, Eventbrite.com, the Utica Zoo Gift Shop, and our wonderful ticket partners:

Bremer’s Wine & Liquor· City Liquors· Clinton Wine and Spirits· Lichtmans Wine & Spirits· Seneca Wine and Liquor· Valley Wine and Liquor · Village Liquors · Yorkville Liquor Store · Lotto Liquors · The Liquor Loft· Ann Street Liquor StoreIlion Wine & Spirits· Rock’s Liquors

PLEASE NOTE: ONLY CASH MAY BE USED TO PURCHASE TICKETS AT WINE AND LIQUOR STORE LOCATIONS. If you would like to pay via credit card, purchase tickets on the Facebook event page, Utica Zoo Gift Shop or via Eventbrite.

You mentioned fundraiser; what do the funds benefit?

Every dollar raised at Wine in the Wilderness will benefit the animals of the Utica Zoo. Whether it be to purchase feed, exhibit upgrades, veterinarian costs, enrichment items, or conservation efforts, your ticket purchase allows us to continue to provide the top tier animal care to our animals.

2000 people is a lot of people; does Wine in the Wilderness get crowded?

While 2000 people sounds like a lot, we have over 40 acres of land currently developed within our Zoo. While some of the drink tents can be a bit congested, there is plenty of areas to explore and find a comfortable spot to enjoy the event. Some folks have opted to bring a picnic blanket and sit in some of our grassy areas, we also have lots of picnic tables, cocktail tables, and other seating/table options available. We highly recommend to check out a few different wineries at different times as people will move around. If one winery has a crowd, check out a different one and come back. Another great way to avoid crowds is to grab a bottle of a wine you like and drink it away from the wine tents. We have 2 pavilions that will be used only for seating that are set away from the crowds. If you are having trouble finding a spot, feel free to ask a staff member where the closest seating area is.

What’s the parking situation?

First and foremost, we want to emphasize that we really want everyone to travel safely and enjoy responsibly. Don’t make a decision that could ruin yours or someone else’s life.

Second, we strongly encourage rideshare options, such as Uber, Lyft, local taxi companies, or getting a ride from family or a friend. These vehicles will be permitted to drop riders off and pick riders up at the front gate. For those who will be driving their own vehicles, there will be first come, first served parking on Zoo grounds. For anyone who is able to grab a parking spot on grounds, please be aware we can not allow anyone to “tailgate” in the Zoo parking lot. Once these spots fill, Utica Police Department will close the main driveway to the Zoo and only rideshare options will be permitted to enter. At this time, overflow parking will be available at the Parkway Rec Center (220 Memorial Parkway) and MVCC Payne Hall Lot (1101 Sherman Drive) with free shuttles to take you to and from the Zoo. For those attendees who may be walking, please be advised that there is ongoing construction that will affect the sidewalks coming up the hill and to exercise caution.

What kind of food will be available?

Included with your Wine in the Wilderness ticket is light-fare and snacks. We will have a variety of wine accompanying snacks such as cheese and crackers, vegetables and fruit with dip, pita and hummus, along with sausage and peppers. We will also have Louie’s Grapevine Gyro Cart, Big Papi’s Iceys, Healthy Choice food truck, and Spud’z food truck available for an additional fee.

I bought a Designated Driver ticket, what do I get with that ticket?

We applaud you for being a designated driver and appreciate your responsibility. While DD ticket holders will not be permitted to consume alcohol, ticket holders receive admission to the event, unlimited water and soft drinks, access to vendors, live music, food, and of course our wonderful animals. DD ticket holders will not be given a wine glass until the end of the event if they would like one and while supplies last.

What if the weather forecast changes and there is a possibility of rain?

Wine in the Wilderness is a rain or shine event. While the forecast is currently showing great weather all evening, we have numerous tents and pavilions available in the event of inclement weather.

I can’t get a babysitter/My 21st birthday is at midnight/My parents own a winery/I am a 20-year-old DD, can I still come?

Unfortunately, we will not allow anyone into the zoo who is under 21 years of age, for any reason. Valid, government-issued ID will be required for all attendees.

Please be aware that our license to allow alcohol to be served is provided on a case by case basis from the City of Utica. Any instances of underage drinking could lead to us being unable to hold these events in the future, which would be a catastrophic hit to our fundraising efforts. Do you really want to be the reason that we can’t have Wine in the Wilderness and Brewfest any longer? Remember: this event is bigger than all of us and is a driving force behind everything we do at the Zoo. Utica Police Department will be on grounds to assist in any questions we have regarding the validity of an ID.

Do I really have to go all the way out to the parking lot to have a cigarette?

No. Our general policy is no smoking within Zoo grounds, however, we allow smoking inside the Zoo during Wine in the Wilderness. Please use only designated sand buckets to extinguish your cigarette butts, and DO NOT DROP THEM INTO ANY BODY OF WATER ON ZOO GROUNDS. There are animals that utilize these bodies of water and swallowing a cigarette could lead to serious health issues or death of an animal. Please be respectful of those around you and stay away from hay, straw, grasses, or any other flammable material.


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