CIA Gives New Life to Copia in Napa

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A class at the Napa Valley Vintners Theater at CIA at Copia
A class at the Napa Valley Vintners Theater at CIA at Copia

2017 marks a new beginning for Copia, the American Center for Wine, Food, and the Arts. The museum and event space, which opened in 2001 in downtown Napa, was conceived by the late great Robert and Margrit Mondavi. However, it closed in 2009 and the 80,000 square feet of theater, classroom, exhibit hall, outdoor, and restaurant space remained empty and unused. The Culinary Institute of America (CIA) purchased the property in October 2015 and in late November of this year, the first stage of the new CIA at Copia was opened. The CIA is headquartered in Hyde Park, New York, but has had a presence at Greystone in St. Helena for the past 20 years. Now the institute is cementing its tenure in the valley with the Copia space—its first facility geared to the general public. The CIA at Copia is meant to be a destination for exploring, experiencing, and enjoying the world of food and wine.

CIA at Copia's outdoor amphitheater
CIA at Copia’s outdoor amphitheater

There is a wide variety of culinary classes, tastings, and demonstrations on the winter calendar. Foodies can learn how to make everything from éclairs to fresh pasta, as well as how to pair wine with classic sauces and the secrets of honey. Want to discover the basic characteristics of individual grape varietals or master the art of pairing beer with chocolate? You can do all of this and more at CIA at Copia. In January, the Restaurant at CIA at Copia, which will be staffed by professionals rather than students, will debut with an innovative and affordable globally-inspired menu that utilizes California’s ingredients. The food will be served dim-sum style: there will be a rotating array of sharable dishes offered table side on wheeled serving carts by the chefs who prepared them. An open kitchen and patio garden will allow diners to view the culinary activity up close and personal.

The retail store
The retail store

A retail store is stocked with luxe linens, pottery created by local artists, knife sets, cookbooks, and much more. Later in 2017, an exhibit of Chuck Williams’s personal collection of cookware will open. When the founder of Williams-Sonoma died, the tools were donated to Copia. Six tasting stations are also in the works where guests will be able to taste wine from visiting wineries that will rotate quarterly. A high-end wine salon will offer pours of hard-to-find cult wines that are otherwise impossible to taste. CIA at Copia will also serve as an event space to local charities and it hopes to positively contribute to the nearby community.

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