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Copia looks set to re-open following financial settlement

Copia looks set to re-open after a settlement was reached that will see ownership of the wine centre given to its largest creditor.

It was announced on Friday that the Napa-based facility, also known as the American Center for Wine, Food and the Arts, will become the property of Bank of New York Mellon.

Copia’s bond insurer, ACA Financial Guaranty Corp, will then negotiate with the various groups that are interested in purchasing the property.

As part of the agreement, Copia has stopped plans to sue the bank and the bond insurer for allegedly mishandling the $71m refinancing of the facility in 2007.

Creditors and the bankruptcy court still need to approve the plan, which is expected to take two months.

A group called the Coalition to Preserve Copia is hoping to raise funds to acquire the centre and will then use it as conference centre, visitor centre, restaurant and wine education facility.

The Culinary Institute of America, which has a cooking school and restaurant in St Helena, has also expressed interest in becoming involved with the project.

‘I hope everybody can work together to make the facility useful to the community,’ said Bankruptcy Judge Alan Jaroslovsky on Friday.

Copia, which opened in 2001, received extensive funding from the Robert Mondavi family ($25m) but they struggled to attract as many visitors as they had originally hoped.

As a result it was closed in November 2008 and went into liquidation in January 2009.

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Written by Suzannah Ramsdale

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