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Walnut Creek Magazine

Copia Finds New Life as the Public Face of the Culinary Institute of America

Jul 24, 2018 04:53PM ● By Fran Miller

Photo by Phil Mansfield


It was an idea ahead of its time. First opened in 2001 with the intention of celebrating all things wine and food, Copia held on for seven years before shuttering its massive indoor/outdoor event and theatre space. The timing just wasn’t right. Fast forward 10 years to a burgeoning Downtown Napa scene that welcomes record numbers of wine and food enthusiasts to its urban playground. At its center? Copia - now enjoying new life as part of the iconic Culinary Institute of America (CIA).  

     Photo by Victor M. Samuel

Located in the heart of Downtown Napa’s bustling Oxbow District, CIA at Copia has once again become the ultimate destination for exploring, experiencing, and enjoying a world of food and wine – a world particular to the bounty of Napa Valley. This state-of-the-art 80,000 square foot facility welcomes both visitors and locals to engage and participate in a variety of classes and programs, shop for the best in home goods, or relax and enjoy a meal prepared by Executive Chef Todd Meyerhofer. Culinary artifacts, museum collections, and one-of-a-kind sculptures are found throughout the property. Visit the Wine Hall of Fame in the foyer to learn about the pioneers who shaped the Valley, and marvel at the Gutenstein Family decanter collection.

“CIA at Copia is a first for the CIA,” says managing director Thomas Bensel. “Entirely dedicated to offering innovative, industry-leading food and wine education and experiences to the pubic, CIA at Copia opens a window to what the CIA truly is: a visionary thought leader and innovator in food and beverage, with world class faculty and facilities. CIA at Copia’s educational offerings takes our enthusiast programming to another level.” 

     Photo by John Barkley

A variety of daily classes, wine tastings, and dining opportunities bring together acclaimed vintners, chefs, visiting scholars, educators, and food and wine leaders who shape the industry. Guests can learn to make fresh pasta, or take a Chef’s class on homemade fresh cheese, or learn how to property taste and appreciate wine. Family Fun Day takes place each Sunday, with cooking classes geared to all ages such as ‘Ramen at Home,’ ‘Sunday Lasagna,’ and ‘Cakes and Cupcakes.’ 

     Photo by Victor M. Samuel

The restaurant offers a sleek, comfortable earth-toned setting with hints of olive green and light woods. Artwork is focused on food, wine, and beverage. The bar area features photography of Brother Timothy’s corkscrew collection, and the main dining room and private dining rooms feature photography of items from Chuck Williams’ collection.The casual yet sophisticated dining room seamlessly blends with the property’s lovely patio, olive grove, and gardens inspired by those in the south of France and Northern Italy, and from which seasonal produce is sourced for Chef Meyerhofer's Mediterranean inspired menu items that pair perfectly with the vast list of Napa Valley wines and craft cocktails. 

"Although we have learned from some of the challenges faced by the previous occupants at Copia, the CIA's goal in acquiring and remodeling this beautiful space was to create highly interactive culinary and beverage experiences for the public and a community gathering space,” says Bensel. “As the public face of the CIA, Copia will continue to grow to be diverse, timely, trendsetting, and accessible with its programming and events. Through these programs, we plan to engage with our local community, as well as the Bay Area and beyond."

For a complete list of CIA at Copia classes, visit

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