|Sparse crowds at Copia have contributed to its financial challenges.|
|(Photo from Sacbee.com – Owen Brewer / Sacramento Bee file, 2002)|
Despite my intention to take a summer sabbatical, an investigative story that appeared on the front page of last Sunday’s Sacramento Bee brought me back to my keyboard. The story raises some new questions about Robert Mondavi’s philanthropic legacy, a subject I explored in The House of Mondavi: The Rise and Fall of an American Wine Dynasty.
An enterprising reporter for The Bee named Andrew McIntosh broke the news that Copia, the nonprofit brainchild of Robert Mondavi devoted to wine, food and the arts in downtown Napa, was bailed out by a state-owned bank that might now be liable if the center fails to recoup its losses. In the mid-1990s, Robert Mondavi had donated $20 million to found Copia: The American Center for Wine, Food and the Arts. Ever since the 80,000-square-foot building opened in 2001, the center has struggled with low attendance, financial troubles, and a confused mission.