Coombsville: The Secluded, Scenic Napa Wine Destination That You Probably Didn’t Know About
By Christina Mueller
With 30 miles and 16 American Viticultural Areas (AVA)s stretched north to south along Highway 29, Napa Valley is renowned for its legendary wines, luxurious resorts and Michelin-starred restaurants, yet at its southern end lies a region many visitors have yet to explore. Named for Napa’s founder, Coombsville is a relatively compact AVA that is not as well-known as its neighbors to the north. Its dense geographic area — Downtown Napa hems it in to the northwest and American Canyon to the south — makes it more intimate than Yountville or Calistoga, and the slower pace of development here means a mellower vibe and a mere sprinkling of up-valley’s glitz. With its small farms and neighborhood feel, think of Coombsville as a nature hike with wine.
Shaped like a caldera, a large cauldronlike hollow that forms shortly after the emptying of a magma chamber in a volcanic eruption, Coombsville benefits from pockets of cool breeze and fog that don’t make it up valley. The cooler temperatures are expressed in the region’s wines — sauvignon blanc speaks of grapefruit, not grass, which is typical of other regions in Napa and abroad. In cabernet sauvignon, soft, approachable tannins are the norm, but Coombsville cabernet sauvignon expresses itself most distinctly with flavors of blueberry and violet that are signatures of this southerly region...
...Due east from Oxbow lies Shadybrook Estate with an expansive patio suitable for socially-distanced tastings. Horse lovers take note: The property incorporates the former Rapp Quarter Horse Ranch, and vineyard tours by horseback are followed by a tasting of wines sourced from the vineyards you recently passed through. The rosé is a standout...
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...
The Antonio Brown saga may be one of the biggest storylines of “Hard Knocks” with the Oakland Raiders this season, but rookie safety Johnathan Abram became the talk of Twitter during Tuesday’s premiere on HBO.
Abram, this year’s 27th overall pick out of Mississippi State, kicked off the debut episode by enjoying a horseback ride in Napa Valley with a fellow rookie, defensive end Clelin Ferrell, which ignited a slew of reactions online.
“Clelin Ferrell and Jonathan Abram are my new favorite NFL duo. #HardKnocks,” one fan posted.
“And Clelin Ferrell quickly joins the quote machines. He and Jonathan Abram singing the Wayans Brothers theme and Old Town Road has be laughing,” another wrote.
“If #HardKnocks was just Johnathan Abram and Clelin Ferrell riding horses for an hour every week that would be fine,” a commenter shared.
Even the Raiders hyped up the blossoming broamance by sharing a gif of the pair on their account, tweeting, “We’re brothersss.”
Though Abram did garner attention for his performance at practice, it was his dinner exchange with quarterback Derek Carr that got social media wound up once more.
“Derek Carr telling Jonathan Abram how to pronounce salmon is why #HardKnocks is the best,” sports columnist Grant Paulsen posted.
“Notabale takeaways from Hard Knocks,” one fan wrote, adding, “Johnathan Abram refuses to pronounce salmon correctly.
Even with a slew of episodes to go, Skip Bayless tossed Abram’s hat into the ring for an early season MVP.
“Breakout star in tonight’s ‘Hard Knock’: rookie first-round safety Johnathan Abram. Every time I turned on a MissSt game, he flashed. Heat-seeking missile in the Jack Tatum mold. Raider Nation will love his fearlessness,” Bayless tweeted.
“Hard Knocks” airs Tuesdays at 10 p.m.
Napa With the Family (Great Wine, Minimal Whine)
Ride Through the Vines
Another way to experience the spectacular landscape is by horseback. We signed on with Napa Valley Trail Rides for a 30-minute mosey through the rolling vineyards of Shadybrook Estate at Rapp Ranch (where there is also a tasting room). Our guides were hipster cowgirls and Brette got to visit the stables after the ride.
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.
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