POSTED ON November 24, 2008 | IN Wine News | BY joe

Last Thursday, I posted some ideas for saving Copia. Apparently, I was way off the mark, not knowing the demise of Copia was only a day a way. The Napa Valley Register reported that Copia had abruptly closed its doors on Friday. Ticket holders for events were out in the cold. The sign on the door says “temporarily closed,” but we all know what that likely means. Gone, and lost forever?

I still believe my ideas for a California wine museum are feasible in some form or another. The property, including the building and surrounding acres, is reportedly up for sale. One of the big wine companies needs to “take the bull by the horn” and begin discussions for reinventing the idea of Copia. Make the focus on the California wine industry. Get rid of the name Copia, it’s meaningless to tourists, and call it the California Wine Museum.

The one comment I received on the blog post made reference to the fact that visitors find it difficult to find Copia, given its location from Highway 29 and Napa’s one-way streets. When we visited the famous wine museum, Museo de la Cultura Del Vino, in the ancient town of Briones, Spain, making our way to the wine museum was a nightmare. Driving to Copia from Highway 29 is a breeze compared to maneuvering the old and tiny roads leading to Briones and the wine museum. The point is that, if what is there is important and compelling, folks will come.

Comments

  1. barbara hirschfeld says

    This is terrible. I have been looking forward to visiting this site ever since it opened and now it is closed. It was a truly good idea – it just needed to be organized by someone with a museum or historic site background. The interest in food and wine in this country is endemic. If the museum were even a little interesting people would come – if it had good food and good wines at a moderate price.

    Just to say that volunteers are wonderful but they need guidance and support and if they were left to interact with visitors without specific training – it would be a disaster.

    I have read only a few blogs connected with the failure – but fromwhat I have read the effort was made to open a “site” give it an interesting name and then not follow through with good programming and good support services ( vern necessary especially if you are attracting people interested in food and wine). This place should have wonderful concerts, wine exhibits sponsored by the best winemakers, a tasting room, a library – it is a no brainer. How can it fail?

    If the building is still there and there is any interest at all, please find the right person to run it. This will work and could be of interest to people all over the world. California wines are of interest, California cooking is of interest,
    California culture is of interest – and what makes a site successful is that it ties into peoples interests.

    • joe says

      Sadly, The Copia building and grounds are for sale with proceeds going to the creditors. You have good ideas and I wish to this day Copia would be still alive and kicking.

      Joe

  2. Nicole says

    The idea of this museum is amazing. I have never been there or to the area but we need cultural centers like museums dedicated to specifics. Maybe it was not executed properly… hopefully someone with a clear vision will reopen it in a new fashion.

  3. Lisa M says

    As an out-of-towner, I am late to the knowledge that Copia had closed. It makes me very sad. I have been there on multiple trips, enjoying the wine tasting, the food-and-wine pairing lunch classes, the garden and Julia’s Kitchen (especially Thursday’s Dinner and a Movie– a great deal with a very knowledgable movie critic host.) I am NOT the sophisticated oenophile that some may be, but we learned a lot and had a thoroughly good time, each trip. I had hoped to take one of the “guide to wine-tasting” classes on our upcoming trip.

    The comments on the lack of flow or focus of the place are well-founded; I have a disability and found myself doing lots of extra walking just to find things. We did experience having free classes/demos that we had confirmed earlier the same day cancelled by afternoon. (We drove over from Petaluma.) Marketing wasn’t very good, either– I have no idea why. Brunch was quite reasonable, yet the room was 2/3 empty.

    Copia was DIFFERENT– different from the many pricey activities in the Napa area, for certain. I am glad I got to experience it, and hope it finds a reincarnation at some point.

  4. Rob H says

    Morton – Your poor imitation comment nails the reason Copia failed. I visited a few weeks after it opened and was in-and-out after a few minutes. I remember saying to myself “Why would anyone spend time here?”.

  5. Morton Leslie says

    Wow, a California Wine Museum. That would be of interest to a hundred people a month… if it was free of charge.

    Copia failed simply because there were far more interesting things to do and explore in the Napa Valley. It was like a poor imitation of the real thing.

  6. RP says

    Copia was a great idea and should have been a world class wine center. I don’t know why it failed but I will share my experience.

    Last year, my significant other and I went there to spend an afternoon. Our expectation was that we would have a light lunch, walk the grounds and taste some wine. We looked forward to seeing the exhibits.

    The first thing we noticed when walking inside was that there was no sense of organization. It took a moment to get the attention of some elderly volunteers at the front. The flimsy and used fliers about the day’s programs raised our eyebrows but the worst was yet to come.

    When we went to the marketplace, we were shocked by the poor selection. Three day old sandwiches in a refrigerated bin. There were no spreads or salads. There was no fresh bread. The only alternative was the overpriced Julia’s Kitchen. We had planned on buying something from the market and sitting outside, but without anything appetizing to buy, we mulled over what we should do. The exhibits were not very interesting and we were hungry.

    Our decision at that point became economic. Since we were hungry and didn’t want to spend money at Julia’s Kitchen, why not go someplace else where the selection was better, the prices more affordable, and where we could walk around? There were plenty of markets and wineries where we could do that.

    Our impression of Copia was that unless we dined at Julia’s Kitchen, we would have to settle for inferior food. That left us feeling like second class citizens. Naturally, we went someplace else.