You are currently browsing the monthly archive for December 2008.

Copia

Copia

Great passion.  Great food.  Great wine.  They even had chickens.  Then….

Robert Mondavi’s homage to the culture of fine wine and great foods, which had empowered his own life’s passions, has passed on to the place where organizations of great promise run by people who don’t get it go.

Copia was to be an experiential quest, alive with sensory inundations and discovery.  Instead, it became a naked emperor in search of a compliment on his wardrobe.

When I first visited Copia, shortly after it opened several years ago, a portion of Julia Childs’ kitchen wall was on display on the second floor. 

No rest for those with zest!

No rest for those with zest!

A docent told me that they had built the gardens 10 feet deep with virgin topsoil brought down by barge from Alaska.  Another had a group of people wandering through, tasting fresh herbs and smelling lavender.  No less than 3 wineries were hosting tasting of wine and olive oils. 

I even paid an admission fee.

What I saw, because of my background, was an enormous media opportunity for branded programming on food, wine and gardening/sustainability.  Copia could have been the brand and Napa, its home, and the Napa Valley would have benefited from the draw of cable tv stardom.

More recently I returned.  Julia’s kitchen wall was no longer upstairs. 

Try to find this at a Super Walmart!

Try to find this at a Super Walmart!

When I asked where it had gone, a docent told me that the exhibits change all of the time.  Later that day, I found the wall down by the restaurant and realized the docent didn’t know who Julia was.  The wine tasting had become a credit card type vendo-tasto display of automated machines which, for a swipe, would charge and dispense a sip, gulp or full pour.  Kind of a Redbox for winos.  MmmMmmMmm.

Admission that day, seemingly overpriced, was free.

While I’ll always remember the gardens for their unique varieties and the care that was spent on their beauty, the rest of the place will fade easily. 

The saddest part for me is that the failure of Copia, now in bankruptcy, will tarnish the legend of Robert Mondavi, who inspired a valley full of grape farmers to become an industry of dominant brands complete with palatial estates and cultural fitness for global acceptance.

The old man (Mondavi) just passed away months ago and it sickens me to hear Copia referred to as his folly.  I never met the guy, but I respect anyone with that much passion. 

I’ll think kindly of him when I uncork my next bottle or crush my next garlic clove.  The fact that I think I get it means he can rest in peace.

Rest in Peace

Rest in Peace

Advertisements
Advertisements