COPIA, the American Center for Wine, Food and the Arts, shuts its doors and files for bankruptcy

COPIA - the center for xxxx in Napa, California

COPIA - the American Center for Wine, Food and the Arts in Napa, California

Last February, I followed my nose – which is trained to sniff out all things chocolate – to Napa, California for Death by Chocolate, a day-long chocolate-themed extravaganza of tastings, classes, and cooking demonstrations, and a chocolate marketplace. The event was organized by and held at COPIA, the American Center for Wine, Food and the Arts.

Curious to see what was planned for Death by Chocolate 2009, I logged onto COPIA’s web site today, only to find the following message –

COPIA is currently closed. COPIA has filed for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy and is currently not open for business, visitation or future bookings.

COPIA is, or I guess I should say was, a venue created by American vintner Robert Mondavi to celebrate wine, food and the arts. It closed its doors on December 1, 2008. Up until then, it housed a food-themed gallery, Julia’s Kitchen restaurant (named after Julia Child), and edible gardens. It also played host to seminars about food and wine, photography and art exhibits, concerts and movie nights.

Although my connection with COPIA is limited to my experience at Death by Chocolate last year (which was great!), it appeared to me that the center served a vital role in the world of food and wine. However, it also seemed to be a controversial creation, not fully embraced by the local residents. It was also a victim of current economic conditions. And, no doubt there were many other reasons for COPIA’s demise.

You can read more about COPIA and its closure in the Napa Valley Register.

My Near ‘Death by Chocolate’ Experience

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Chuck Siegel of Charles Chocolates prepares hot chocolate at COPIA's Death by Chocolate event in Napa, California

It was late afternoon last Saturday……I was struggling valiantly to down another sip of rich, thick, sweet, intensely chocolate hot chocolate. I was attending the Death by Chocolate event at COPIA (the Center for Wine, Food and the Arts) in Napa, California.

I had been sampling chocolate of all kinds, flavours and cocoa contents since 10 a.m. It was about 4 p.m. and I was sitting in COPIA’s beautiful tiered kitchen theatre, watching the final Master Class of the day. Chuck Siegel of Charles Chocolates had just passed around samples of the third of three hot chocolates he had made. Each was made with Guittard chocolate and tasted rather like drinking chocolate syrup (not that I will attest to knowing what drinking chocolate syrup tastes like!).

In terms of chocolate tasting, I was clearly done for the day. Continue reading