I moved to Napa in 2000 to help open Copia: The American Center for Wine, Food & the Arts (which sadly closed in 2008). While it had its fair share of challenges, it was an incredible opportunity and it’s what brought me from San Francisco to Napa. I left Copia in 2004 after serving as its marketing and communications director for four years, but I decided to make Napa my home for good (it helped that I had just starting dating my husband).

Last weekend, for the first time since 2008, I went to an event at Copia.  I attended the Friends of the Napa River concert in the newly designed outdoor amphitheater followed by wine and hors d’oeuvres in the former Julia’s Kitchen. It was so exciting to see the building come alive again, with wine, food and art, no less! Needless to say, I couldn’t be happier that The Culinary Institute of America has purchased the property and is opening a Napa campus. And I was even happier to find out that they are going to offer programs for kids!

Family Fun Days! The first class in the Family Fun Day series is on Sunday, October 23 and it’s all about mac ‘n cheese! Fun for ages 4 and up, all children must be accompanied by at least one adult–and all adults must be accompanied by at least one child. In the first class, you will learn ways to reimagine this classic with bold ingredients like peppers and chiles or fresh fruits and veggies with flavorful cheeses and sauces. Plus, you will learn about healthy options like whole grain pasta, lean protein, or allergy-sensitive modifications for a delicious twist on this classic childhood dish. And to top it all off, you will enjoy the fruits of your labor with a DIY mac & cheese sampling bar with a little something for the whole family. The next class is scheduled for October 30 and it’s all about Halloween treats. We’ll share more info on the family fun days as it becomes available.

A Library of Toys? We were excited about yesterday’s reopening of Community Resources for Children’s Toy Library & Early Learning Center yesterday. My daughter and I went there quite often when she was younger to “try out” toys before buying them. Toys and early learning materials are available for a month-long loan to anyone who lives in Napa County. The center has new flooring, additional shelving, bright yellow paint, and lots of space to play! All of the toys and learning materials are now shelved by age groups 0-1, 2-3,4-5 in four categories to support children’s development: language and pre-literacy, thinking skills, movement and physical development, and social/emotional development. The Toy Library and Early Learning Center is open Mondays from 8:30 am to 12:30 pm and Wednesdays from 1:30 pm to 4:30 pm.

All aboard! We have already purchased our tickets for the Santa Train (an annual favorite), and couldn’t be more excited about the changes new ownership of the Napa Valley Wine Train has made. They have completely revamped the program, and this year, guests will embark on an all new musical and interactive journey to Santa’s Workshop accompanied by some of Santa’s best friends, located at the Yountville Station. In addition to a magical wristband that pairs with the lights and sound system on board, guests will enjoy (included in the price) hot chocolate, cookies and other holidays treats– and the kids will take home a gift from Santa. The show begins either at 5 or 8 pm daily, November 19 through December 29, and locals get a special rate Monday-Thursday.