Cutbacks at Copia

Copia, the American Center for Wine, Food & the Arts, is cutting back—laying off a third of its staff and planning to sell five acres of land in order to address its debt situation.

The San Francisco Chronicle reports that the five-year-old Napa-based nonprofit first envisioned by Robert and Margrit Biever Mondavi is struggling under the combined weight of debt from a $70 million bond and revenue shortfall. By eliminating 25 jobs and selling off the land, Copia president Arthur Jacobus hopes to reduce the debt to a more manageable level.

Copia, whose mission is to “explore, celebrate and share the many pleasures and benefits of wine, its relationship to food and its significance to our culture,” offers wine and food tastings, dining, shopping, garden visits, and cultural events—art exhibitions, film screenings, lectures, and concerts.

A more detailed article in local newspaper The St. Helena Star has the specifics of what these cutbacks will look like—exhibition space converted for conference rental, a greater focus on wine and less on art, and a chunk of land sold to a developer with plans to build a hotel and “shopping village.” All this done to stave off “near-financial collapse.”

“For all the wonderful things we’ve accomplished in the past year, we’ve been economically unsustainable,” Jacobus said.

Wine website decanter.com points out that Copia is not the only wine education center to deal with financial woes. Both the National Wine Centre of Australia, in Adelaide, and Vinopolis, in London, have faced their share of struggles.

Could it be that most people prefer their wine with cheese and crackers, hold the education?