Rapp Ranch Estates came to the Napa County Planning Commission with a spate of code compliance cleanup and expansion requests for its Shadybrook Estate Winery and an adjacent equestrian center.

The winery and equestrian center in the Coombsville area east of the city of Napa were separate but linked agenda items. The Planning Commission after discussions on Dec. 4 continued both until Jan. 15.

Shadybrook Estate Winery alone took one-and-a-half hours to address. Commissioners leaned toward cleaning up the violations, with a few exceptions. But they had concerns about requested visitor increases.

“It doesn’t mean because you’ve brought something into compliance that you get another big ask on top of that,” Commissioner Dave Whitmer said.

Requested code violations remedies ranged from recognizing the demolition of a barn that was replaced by four steel buildings to the installation of visiting/marketing event patio with a fire pit and bocce ball court to an increase from nine to 26 parking spaces.

Commissioner Jeri Hansen said she knows applicants David and Sue Alkosser bought the property in 2016 and the winery’s history goes back to 2007. Still, she wondered aloud how contractors could do some of this work without seeking permits.

“What happened from 2007 to now?” Hansen said. “These are pretty big things. Going from nine to 26 parking spaces and tearing down buildings.”

Commissioners favored cleaning up most of the violations. But they didn’t favor allowing the bocce ball court to remain, given the county doesn’t allow these recreational uses at wineries.

Nor did they favor allowing Shadybrook winery to use its already installed outdoor amplified sound system at marketing events for music and speeches. Commissioner Joelle Gallagher said she doesn’t want to set the precedent.

Requests from three other wineries will be coming to the Planning Commission to use outdoor music, county Supervising Planner Charlene Gallina said. Unlike Shadybrook, these wineries are along Highway 29 and want to muffle traffic noise to create a more serene wine tasting experience, she said.

“They’ve tried other things like water features and landscaping and they want to now focus on outdoor music,” she said.

Beyond code violations, Shadybrook asked to increase visitation from 7,644 to 18,200 guests annually. It asked to increase marketing events guests from 270 to 1,080 annually.

“I’m having a hard time with the additional numbers of people,” Whitmer said, a sentiment echoed by other commissioners.

The equestrian center is on an adjacent property. It includes a 29,114-square-foot barn with an indoor arena, stalls with outdoor paddocks and an outdoor arena with lighting.

However, the Rapp equestrian center doesn’t have a use permit, a county report said. A prior owner transferred the horse boarding facility from the Shadybrook winery site to the present site.

Consultant David Gilbreth on behalf of the applicants described a tangled history behind this missing permit and didn’t view his clients as being the ones to blame.

“On the Rapp matter – it made me think of a pun – they’re getting a bad rap,” he said.

The Rapp Equestrian Center wants recognized the right to have up to 60 horses on the property, up to 350 visitors a week and several events. In addition, it wants to build a 1,800-square-foot office/tack room/restroom.

Both Shadybrook winery and Rapp Equestrian Center are located at 100 Rapp Lane, near the northern end of Second Avenue and near Chateau Lane.

Barry Eberling's memorable stories from 2019

Here's some of my 2019 stories from the Napa County world of transportation, wine and communities - nothing too heavy, but hopefully with useful information.

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You can reach Barry Eberling at 256-2253 or beberling@napanews.com.


Napa County Reporter

Barry Eberling covers Napa County government, transportation, the environment and general assignments. He has worked for the Napa Valley Register since fall 2014 and previously worked 27 years for the Daily Republic of Fairfield.