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Where can you find wine tasting and cookie decorating under the same roof? This weekend that place was the Culinary Institute of America at Copia in downtown Napa, which is celebrating its grand opening.

The event, which continues Sunday, serves as an opportunity for the public to see what CIA at Copia has to offer. Festivities included workshops, film screenings, author signings, and chef demonstrations.

“I love Copia,” said Lisa Lombardi, who attended the event on Saturday with her husband and their three children. After being “cooped up” at home due to the weather, Lombardi said it was just what the family needed to get out of the house.

“It’s cute,” she said. “We did the cookie decorating.”

The cookie decorating area upstairs was full of families – many of them donning the free paper chef hats that were being handed out.

“You’re making a mountain of a cookie there,” said Jayne Hunter to her grandson, Isaiah Ledesma, 3. Isaiah squirted blue icing onto his cookie and piled glitter sprinkles, M&Ms and marshmallows on top of it.

“He loves to cook at home,” Hunter said as Isaiah asked for more marshmallows. Whatever she is making, she said, he wants to make, too. “He’s an expert already at flipping pancakes.”

Although she wanted to do some wine tasting, Hunter said she would have to come back on Sunday to do it.

“We had to come do the cookie decorating first,” she said. “I’ll come back when I have a driver.”

Meanwhile downstairs multiple wines were available for tasting for the cost of a token — $4 each, $18 for five, or $35 for 10.

Laura Bassett of Sonoma and Ilana Teles of Marin County decided to use one of their tokens to try cabernet sauvignon from Greystone Cellars.

“Wine is always good for conversation,” Teles said.

Teles said there were more activities at the event than she thought there would be.

“It’s a very, very nice event,” she said.

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“The setup is incredible,” agreed Bassett.

Former Copia volunteers Robert and Gail Sims said being at the event brought back a lot of memories.

“My band (the Riptides) played for the opening of Copia,” Robert Sims said. He remembered seeing a lot of great musicians when the venue was open before, including Tommy Castro and Iron Butterfly.

“I hope they have concerts here again,” he said. “That was really fun.”

“The spirit of the people that brought Copia to life is still there,” said Gail Sims. “You can really see a sense of what its purpose originally was – food, wine and the arts.”

Robert and Margrit Mondavi’s grandson, winemaker Carlo Mondavi, agreed.

“I’m grateful that this spot is open,” he said as he poured wines from RAEN winery into guests’ glasses. “It’s nice to see people out here. It’s right in line with the vision my grandfather had for the place.”

The unveiling of the sculpture atop the Copia tower, ‘Is That Bob & Margrit?,’ featuring the likenesses of Robert and Margrit Mondavi, is planned as one of Sunday’s grand opening festivities.


Public Safety Reporter

Maria Sestito is the Napa Valley Register public safety reporter. She covers breaking news as well as crime and courts. Maria came to the Napa Valley Register in 2015 after working at as a reporter and photographer at The Daily News in Jacksonville, NC.