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THIS CALIFORNIA WINERY HAS A UNIQUELY EQUINE COMPONENT.
By Jordan Mackay
In March 2019, Doriane Woolley was driving up an oak studded country road just outside Napa, California, a place she’d never been, on the way to a job interview, when something made her stop. An experienced rider and barn manager, Doriane was on the run from a Michigan winter in the icy grip of a -45-degree polar vortex. The New Mexico native was cursing the day she had left Texas horse country for a job in the icy Midwest. It was that Texas horse connection that caused her to stop. Suspended over the road was a large wooden plank carved with the words “Rapp Lane.” A sign embedded in the stone pillars flanking the drive read “Rapp Quarter Horse Ranch.”
“I stopped and stared at it and said, £No way!’” Doriane recalls. “I had worked with the Rapps, who were very dear friends of mine, in Texas. And this was where Phil, who is a leading cutting horse trainer, grew up.”
Through this gate was Shadybrook Estate, a winery and horse operation that was looking for an equestrian center manager. Doriane was there to interview for the job. She knew Phil had grown up in Napa but had no idea she was headed to the very site where his career began. Phil and his wife, Mary Ann, sold the Napa ranch and relocated the family to Weatherford, Texas, in 1994. Even though the ranch and the valley in general have been transformed by the advent of global wine fame, the Rapp spirit in this property lives on. Doriane got the job at Shadybrook and found respite from the cold. She also found an unusual combination of vineyards and Quarter Horses-Napa past and Napa present...
Shadybrook Estate , Platiné Blanc, Semillon, Napa Valley, 2017, Platinum Medal
Shadybrook Estate , Malbec, Estate Vineyards, Napa Valley, Coombsville, 2016, Gold Medal
Unique amongst all other wine competitions, the TEXSOM International Wine Awards holds a Sommelier Retreat behind the scenes. This year a total of 69 participants were in attendance; 45 sommeliers from 16 states and two countries and 24 mentors (Master Sommeliers, Masters of Wine and Editors). While the judges and volunteers were hard at work facilitating the judging of over 2,800 wines, the panel of sommeliers tasted select medal-winning wines, received tutelage in writing about these wines from the esteemed editors also in attendance, practiced blind tasting techniques with Master Sommeliers and worked with the Wine Awards production team to understand the competition’s high standards and rigorous processes.
The TEXSOM International Wine Awards arranges award entries by category of beverage, place of origin, and type. Medals are awarded on a merit basis as bronze, silver, gold, or Judges’ Selection nomination, which are elevated to platinum.
Wines demonstrating quality and unique character that are exceptional even amongst their medal-winning peers may be nominated by judging panels for specific Judges’ Selection categories. All Judges’ Selection nominees are elevated to platinum medal. These platinum medal wines are blind tasted by special panels to award the winner for each category of Judges’ Selection medal. This year 52 Judges’ Selection medals were awarded.
Whether traveling to Napa for its exquisite wines or its picturesque vistas, Shadybrook Estate Winery at Rapp Ranch offers a truly unique experience that hearkens back to the Valley’s original ranchers. Located in a charming corner of Goombsville, the historic property offers guests a unique selection of small-lot Estate wines graciously crafted to showcase the balance and power of the Goombsville terroir. By appointment visits include an estate tour and tasting, either paired with cheese and charcuterie or for visitors with an adventurer’s spirit, a guided horseback ride through the vineyard.
Hot Summer days spent poolside or warm nights by the campfire. Why not enjoy them with a glass of wine in hand?
JUMBO PRAWN CEVICHE SALAD
A once sleepy, understated grape growing region of the Napa Valley has long been the secret ingredient for many award-winning and 90-plus point wines. Acclaimed vintners like Robert Mondavi, Joseph Phelps, Louie Martini, Dario Sattui and Paul Hobbs, to name a few, sourced their grapes from the rocky soils that abut the shadows of Mt. George in the Valley’s southeast side.
Shadybrook Estate at Rapp Ranch
Just a few miles away from the bustle of downtown Napa, nestled in the foothills of the Vacas Range, Napa Valley opens its kimono to the quiet grace of Coombsville. With sprawling acreage home to vineyards, farms, ranches and a peppering of multi generation residential communities, Coombsville is one of Napa Valley’s hidden treasures. Having received its AVA designation in 2011, it is becoming one of Napa’s most sought after regions for wineries to establish a footing both as a premier location to produce grapes and to open space to welcome visitors.
This past weekend’s Napa Truffle Festival took us to one of Napa’s newest winery settings in the Coombsville appellation in Napa – Shadybrook Estate at Rapp Ranch.
The Saturday afternoon luncheon was set on the beautiful expansive terrace of the stunning winery estate. Mother nature delivered a spectacular sunny warm day with gentle breezes and breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains and valley. Guests sipped the extraordinary wines of Shadybrook beautifully paired with the truffle lunch prepared by Michelin star Chef Gabriel Kreuther of Gabriel Kreuther Restaurant. Chef was also assisted in the estates fabulous commercial kitchen by Napa Truffle Festival Host Chef, Ken Frank...
As one of nine recognized Great Wine Capitals, San Francisco | Napa Valley has awarded its hospitality leaders the 2018 Best Of Wine Tourism regional designations in seven categories.
The Best Of awards categories include accommodations; art and culture; architecture and landscape; innovative wine tourism experience; sustainable wine tourism practices; wine tourism restaurant; and wine tourism services.
The 2018 Best Of regional San Francisco Innovative Wine Tourism Experience is Shadybrook Estate Winery