Shadybrook Estate and Rapp Ranch – A Quintessential Napa Valley Experience

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Last weekend four of us venture up to Napa and what an amazing visit. Only went to four wineries, which is unheard of for me, but our guests had done little or no wine tasting to speak of in Napa Valley. Had to pick out just four wineries to “showcase Napa Valley”. The first winery was Shadybrook Estate at Rapp Ranch in Coombsville. For some additional background on this beautiful property and the master winemaker, Rudy Zuidema see two previous stories at:

Today’s Line Up on the Veranda

First up after meeting our knowledgeable host Jorge, we sat on the veranda/deck to begin to enjoy some beautiful and refreshing wines.


A beautiful, arranged charcuterie board was presented with cheese, fruits, nuts, seeds and meats, as well as some desired water. The day was about 86 degrees with a light gentle breeze as we welcomed the 2019 Rapp Ranch Chardonnay. Light golden straw coloring and always a winner vintage to vintage. While Rudy is known for his reds, he is equally skilled in producing Chardonnays. Stirring of the lees in the barrel provided some “weight and definition” of this enjoyable wine providing a slight modicum of buttery flavor but mostly a soft lemon and brown sugar finish. Only 312 cases and it was $50/per bottle.

The second wine was one I had never experienced at Rapp Ranch, the 2019 Rapp Ranch Pinot Noir. These first two are the only ones that are not estate grown. The Pinot Noir provided a translucent ruby color with a brilliant and radiant draw from the eyes. The aromas were classical strawberry and hint of rhubarb. Once tasting it, the minerality in the palate added minerality of wet stones from a babbling brook on the finish. An exquisite and seldom found Pinot Noir. Only 373 cases produced and is $60/per bottle.

Now the transition to red wines once we were sufficiently cooled down and palates had come alive. First up was the 2018 Rapp Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon. A graceful and complete Cabernet Sauvignon with hints of eucalyptus, black licorice, vanilla and cherry aromas and tastes. Smooth and silky are the key words to describe this wine with its textual taste in the mouth. 620 cases produced and it sells for $70/per bottle.

Next was the 2018 Shadybrook Estate V red wine blend. This is patterned on your typical blend of the noble Bordeaux grapes with the following percentages: 34% Cabernet Franc, 22% Merlot, 19% Cabernet Sauvignon, 12% Petit Verdot and 13% Malbec. These grapes come from their 15 estate acres. While “a typical Bordeaux blend” this is anything but typical tasting! Plum, black cherry, chocolate and vanilla pipe tobacco come together is a symphonic tribute to each varietal with none dominated the music in the palate. Medium tannins makes this a wine to enjoy standalone or with food. Only 319 cases and it goes for $95/per bottle.

A special treat was offered to do a comparison between their 2018 “red wine blend” and a 2018 Shadybrook Estate Cabernet Sauvignon. The 2018 Shadybrook Cabernet Sauvignon provided a deep crimson coloring and medium viscosity on the eyes. The nose provided aromas of boysenberry, black tea and a slight licorice hint. On the palate and finish a tremendous blueberry and chocolate components engulf the senses. Stronger tannins but controlled and not sharp, provided a structure and layers to be deciphered and enjoyed. A very age worthy wine for at least ten years and made from 100% Cabernet Sauvignon grapes. Aged 30 months in 85% new French oak barrels. A limited 262 cases were produced and goes for $125/bottle.

What a great start for the weekend and truly a memorable experience with some of the best wines Napa Valley has to offer. A special thank you to Jorge and Rudy for their hospitality. Only 10 minutes from downtown Napa and definitely will meet and surpass any wine aficionado’s desires!




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