The doors to Copia, the American Center for Wine, Food, and Art in Napa Valley are permanently closed, chapter 11 has been filed, and the gardens are left to take over like an apocalyptic Garden of Eden. The employees were sent home in November, although some have chosen to spend their own time checking in on and tending to the gardens and fulfilling previously scheduled wine classes in San Francisco, while still waiting for back pay.
The day that Copia opened in 2001, a crowd of thousands lined First Street waiting for a glimpse of Julia Child and Robert Mondavi. They went on to experience the vast gardens and take in the exhibits. In the coming years there were cooking classes, wine seminars, and book signings, but within the following seven years the attractions did not work, the restaurant was still in flux, and visitors left wondering if the time and admission price would have been better spent elsewhere.
Misguided projections for attendance, pricing for admission and events, management in general, the restaurant being poorly conceptualized and financial missteps are at the forefront of the issues that lead up to the closure. After a series of drastic cuts and a shake up of the heads, as well as a last desperate attempt to bring on Tyler Florence as the “Dean of Culinary Studies’” the hole they were in was beyond a bailout. At this point no one knows for sure what will come of the vacant 70,000 square foot building with beautiful views of the river and a sprawling 12 acre educational garden.