Last year is just a fading image in our rearview mirrors, and 2014 looms bright in our headlights, but the images beyond the first month of the year are not clear. One of the large issues ahead is what will happen to Copia in 2014. Copia, which opened in 2001 and closed in 2008, was a beautiful vision of Robert Mondavi and a few friends but was too ambitious for Napa Valley because it doesn’t have the population to support such a project. Most locals visited Copia, but usually only once, and visitors primarily come to the valley to visit its wineries and famous restaurants — and may skip other attractions like museums, art exhibitions and Copia.

If you think that January is a month of recovery from overindulgence at our valley restaurants during the year-end holidays, think again. For starters, January has been designated as Restaurant Month in Napa Valley. Participating eateries are offering special dishes to celebrate the new year. You may have to put off your good intentions of a Spartan diet for another month at least (actually, a good start would be running in the Napa Valley Marathon, scheduled for March 2).

Speaking of restaurants, Cindy Pawlcyn has announced the arrival of Jim Leiken, the new executive chef for her popular restaurant Cindy’s Back Street Kitchen. Leiken has an impressive record of working in well-known restaurants across the country. During Napa Valley Restaurant Month, all three of Pawlcyn’s restaurants will feature set-price menus.

Another upcoming activity in the valley is the fourth annual truffle festival, Jan. 17-24. Visit for details.

An ongoing event is the Calistoga Winter in the Wineries from Friday through Feb. 9. The $75 passport allows one to visit 14 different wineries, both large and small. Go to

Lots of action during January on Thursday nights at 7 p.m. at the St. Helena Public Library: January’s exhibit is “Ordinary People, Provocative Portraits” by Deirdre Shibano, an award-winning artist who has spent many years painting and teaching in upper Napa Valley.

Jan. 16: The title of Best Breakfast Baker in Napa County will be decided (all five libraries in the county have held breakfast baking contests and all the winners will participate in one final judging). While the votes are being counted, Sarah Mitchell Hansen, co-author with Karen Mitchell of “The Model Bakery Cookbook,” will talk about the art of making pastry.

Jan. 23: Lin Weber will discuss her new book on the history of prohibition in Napa Valley. Her book will be available for purchase and signing. Nichelini wines will add zest to the evening.

Jan. 31: Jon Bonne, wine editor for the S.F. Chronicle, will discuss his new book, “The New California Wine: A Guide to the Producers and Wines Behind a Revolution in Taste.” The book is co-sponsored by the Napa Valley Wine Library Association and will be available for purchase and signing.

On consecutive Tuesdays at 7 p.m. during January, films will be shown with the theme “Getting Ready for the Super Bowl Game.”

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The traditional ZAP (Zinfandel Advocates and Producers) has changed the name of its annual event to “The Zinfandel Experience.” This tasting, the largest single-variety wine tasting in the world, is scheduled for Jan. 23-25. The reason for the change is to provide a more intimate and educational experience for the attendees. The event, which has been held at Fort Mason in the past, will have new locations at the Four Seasons Hotel in San Francisco and in the Presidio. The new format includes three days of selected tastings and seminars, and the grand tasting on the final day has been replaced by three tasting categories at three different venues at the Presidio.

Napa Valley zinfandels are always present and eager to be tasted. More details at

In 2013, American’s drank more wine for the 19th year in a row. Statistics on American drinking habits show that the total consumption for the year is up 2 percent to 260 million 12-bottle cases. California supplied 58 percent of the wines consumed. Of the wines consumed, 21 percent were chardonnay; 12 percent cabernet sauvignon; 9 percent merlot; 8 percent pinot grigio or pinot gris; 6 percent moscato; 5 percent sweet red wines; and 1 percent malbec, for a total of $37 billion. However, we drank $69 billion worth of spirits and $99 billion worth of beer, of which a large contribution is due to the football season (and fights in the stands).

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“Who does not love wine, women, and song remains a fool his whole life long.” Martin Luther.

George Starke may be reached at 707-942-0733, or at

George Starke may be reached at 707-942-0733, or at