Which came first? The horses or the vines? At Shadybrook Estate, where a dozen gentle steeds roam the Coombsville AVA property, it’s a toss-up.

Once a working ranch, pasture land has long given way to vines, and this hidden winery gem now produces, at the helm of lauded winemaker Rudy Zuidema, Bordeaux varietals such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, and a signature Bordeaux blend. But the horses continue to play a major role in the small estate winery’s beguiling hospitality offerings.

Conveniently located just a 10 minute Uber or Lyft ride from downtown Napa, Shadybrook Estate – and the entire Coombsville AVA – have long flown under the wine country radar. Until now. Downtown Napa’s renaissance has spilled over to this conveniently located pastoral playground with an ‘old horse country’ vibe, where the horses are not just for show.

The only winery in Napa Valley to offer vineyard horseback rides, Shadybook Estate is perfectly poised for these unique tours that highlight the original rancher perspective. The 30 and 50 minute ‘Ultimate Ranch Experience’ horseback rides feature breathtaking vistas of Coombsville’s surrounding hillsides and the winery’s historic Rapp Ranch Estate, purchased just three years ago by Shadybrook proprietors David and Alice Alkosser who take great care in maintaining the historic integrity of their bucolic acreage, which at one time included a bevy of quarter horses.

In the interest of authentic revitalization of the property, the duo purchased their 12 good-natured older horses who are housed in the western barn where guests saddle-up. Serving as the winery’s unofficial good-will ambassadors, the horses are perhaps the estate’s best tour guides, providing serene property strolls that are followed by a Perfect Pairing tasting (a standard tasting option for the horse- averse) on Shadybrook’s patio garden lounge overlooking the hills and beautiful Rapp Ranch Vineyards. The experience includes four wine pours from the Shadybrook Estate and Rapp Ranch labels, served with a bountiful assortment of cheeses, charcuterie, spreads, fruits and nuts. 

The Shadybrook Estate and Rapp Ranch award-winning wines are sold mostly direct to consumer, and their membership list is quickly growing. One taste, and it’s easy to see why.

“Everything we do at Shadybrook – from start to finish – includes passion and detail,” said Kim Bothwell, director of hospitality and marketing. “The Alkossers and our winemaker Rudy Zuidema take great pride not only in the wines we make, but in caring for this incredible property.”

A property best experienced on horseback.


By appointment only 707-255-5661

Info@shaydbrookestate.com; www.shadybrookestate.com


Article By: Fran Miller