The Business End

Another wine center closes

2012-10-25T18:01:00Z 2012-10-25T18:02:54Z Another wine center closesPaul Franson Napa Valley Register
October 25, 2012 6:01 pm  • 

Closed Copia isn’t the only consumer wine center that’s had problems.

The Finger Lakes Wine Center in Ithaca, N.Y., has closed for reorganization, and other proposed wine centers around the country have been delayed or abandoned because of the weak economy.

The Finger Lakes center opened in November 2010 to showcase the region’s wines with $500,000 from state and local sources. The modest center offered wine tasting and a site for events, and planned to offer classes for the public.

Copia, the American Center for Food, Wine and the Arts, opened in Napa in 2001 and closed in 2008. At that time, a proposed wine and food center in Santa Rosa was also abandoned.

Unlike Copia, the other centers intend to promote local wines. Proposed centers in Fredericksburg, Texas, and Prosser, Wash., have been delayed by the recession, but both are moving forward.

In Prosser, the Walter Clore Wine and Culinary Center plans 15,000 square feet of buildings and grounds that will offer programs plus venues for meetings and events. The center’s goals include creating jobs and promoting Washington state wine and food. A 2,000-square-foot Vineyard Pavilion was completed in the spring of 2011. The center claims 90 percent of its funding is committed, and just approved the start of construction.

In Texas’s hill country around Fredericksburg, the proposed Texas Center for Wine and Culinary Arts is expected to cost $10 million. Once projected to open sooner, it’s now waiting for financing.

One wine center that has thrived is the New York Wine & Culinary Center in Canandaigua, N.Y. The $7.5 million facility is supported by grants and contributions from agriculture, culinary and wine businesses like nearby Constellation Brands as well as state and federal governments. The center has been open since June 2006.

Peter Marks of Constellation Brands, who was the wine director at Copia, will be teaching Wines and Spirits Education Trust (WSET) classes at the center this year.

“It’s doing well because it’s focused. Its mission is promoting New York wine and food,” he said.

By comparison, Copia also emphasized art, confusing potential supporters and attendees.

Meanwhile, wine educational centers as part of higher education are doing better than consumer-oriented centers: Washington State University has raised $17 million for the Wine Science Center in Richland. Umpqua Community College in Oregon has added an impressive winery and instructional facility. New York has approved $3.3 million for a viticulture center at the Cornell Agricultural and Food Technology Park in Geneva, N.Y.

And, of course, UC Davis recently completed an ambitious wine center partly financed by the late Robert Mondavi and other private donors.

California makes contests legal

California has finally joined the other states in allowing contests and sweepstakes for wine companies. The law contains pages of restrictions, however, so check it carefully before holding a contest.

Symposium for Professional Wine Writers

The ninth annual Symposium for Professional Wine Writers will be held at Meadowood Feb. 19-22. For more information, go to or contact director Jim Gordon at

Vit Fair

The 22nd Viticulture Fair sponsored by the Napa Valley Grapegrowers is on Wednesday, Nov. 7, at Napa Valley Expo Fairgrounds from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.

The Vit Fair features technical seminars in English and Spanish and more than 120 exhibitors will showcase applications, technology and products. Tickets are $10 at the door.

Get information and tickets at

In addition, the first North Coast Wine Industry Expo will be held on Dec. 5 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds in Santa Rosa. Get more information at

Email Paul Franson at

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