Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Copia - An Abundance of Pretension

Copia -

Let me just state up front that Copia, "The American Center for Wine, Food, & the Arts" was and is a complete and total waste of money. It has done nothing to promote wine in the United States. For those who haven't kept up with valley news in the last couple of years, valley residents forked over $30 million for this thing. Its Mission Statement reads like this:

"COPIA: The American Center for Wine, Food & the Arts is a cultural museum and educational center dedicated to exploring the distinctively American contribution to the character of wine and food in close association with the arts and humanities, and to celebrating these as a unique expression of the vitality of American life, culture and heritage."

Aside from being one of the most convoluted descriptions of purpose for any organization not associated with the US Government, it almost screams "Fun, frivolity, and irreverence will not be tolerated here". Oh sure, in and of itself, maybe it's been ok for the redevelopment of downtown Napa (Would you like a Cheverolet with that Seared Ahi Salad?) but what has it really accomplished. The celebration of American wine and food? Maybe the celebration of "How we can possibly rarify the image of wine in American culture, more so than it already is".

Copia is the edification of exactly what's wrong with the perception of wine in America. It is indeed a museum, a museum to the myriad pretensions that keep wine from popular acceptance in the United States. In the Copia vision, wine is NOT a beverage. No, no, that would be horrible. To conceive of wine as popular beverage to be consumed at whim and without ceremony. Heresy! Wine is a mystical embodiment of nature and art and should be treated as such. We should run through the vineyards, strumming a lyre, and quoting Latin aphorisms about wine.

But go right ahead; pay your $12 admission and drink deeply of the acceptable perceptions of wine, food, music, and art. You cannot have one without the other, and you cannot drink wine as a beverage. It is well that Copia is located in Napa, shielded from the rest of the country, because the United States has enough hang-ups on wine without it being in a more prominent location.


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