If Washington is the seat of government and New York the center of the arts, then Napa Valley is the capital of American gastronomy. This becomes official next month with the opening of COPIA, The American Center for Food, Wine & the Arts. The brainchild of Robert Mondavi, who donated $20 million and found the 12-acre site in downtown Napa, this nonprofit cultural center explores the role of eating and drinking in American life through cooking demonstrations, wine tastings, outdoor concerts and other forms of edutainment. Gallery exhibitions range from the serious (a show of major artists interested in the culture of eating) to the silly (clips of cinematic food fights). Julia Child, the patron saint of culinary edutainment, is canonized in Julia's Kitchen, a restaurant starring fruits and vegetables from the center's own organic gardens (500 First St., Napa; 707-257-3606).

-Pete Wells