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Napa winery and horse center get code violations solved
Wine Industry

Napa winery and horse center get code violations solved

From the Napa Valley Wine Insider Digest: Jan. 24, 2020 series
Napa County Administration Building

The Napa County Administration Building at Third and Coombs streets.

Shadybrook winery and Rapp equestrian center had several code violations cured by Napa County, but also had requests rejected.

The winery and horse center are located on adjacent Coombsville properties totaling about 23 acres and are both owned by David and Alice Alkosser. The Planning Commission on Wednesday considered both projects at the same time because of the links.

For the winery, commissioners cleaned up code violations involving a demolished barn and replacement construction, a reconfigured parking area, a visitation patio and additional employees. They said an unpermitted bocce ball court and use of amplified sound must go.

Shadybrook also asked to increase tasting room visitation from 147 guests per week to 350 per week. The Planning Commission had been willing to entertain a smaller increase. Given the circumstances, it told the applicant to stick with what’s approved and try again in a year.

“I’m not supportive of such a large increase in visitation,” Commission Chair Dave Whitmer said.

Commissioner Andrew Mazotti said the county’s program to clean up winery code violations is not intended to be a way to double visitation.

The Alkossers tried another approach to trimming their winery visitation request. They sought to win the higher number by saying no more than 100 visitors would come to the combined winery/horse center properties on any one day.

“That wasn’t the ask of the commission,” Mazotti said.

Shadybrook received commission approval to increase wine production from 30,000 gallons annually to 70,000 gallons annually. A county report said the owners have 85 acres of vineyards, enough to produce that much wine.

The commission also cleaned up violations for the long-standing Rapp horse center, which had no use permit. Attorney David Gilbreth on behalf of the Alkossers said the situation resulted from a county mistake before the Alkossers brought the property.

Rapp equestrian center can keep its barns, paddocks, stalls and outdoor arena. It can have 60 horses on the property at any one time and hold events. It can have 350 guests weekly, the commission agreed.

Ed Shenk has lived in Coombsville for 25 years. He was concerned with traffic along Second Avenue and other roads.

“During that time period, what I’ve observed is a real change in the amount of traffic and the use of the roads,” he told commissioners. “It just seems there is a higher speed that cars move in The Avenues.”

Gilbreth said the Alkossers are willing to put up a radar speed flashing sign and perhaps install speed humps. The commission didn’t make these offers requirements.

Scott Zion also lives in Coombsville. He said he’s impressed by how the Alkossers have transformed the property into a showcase.

“Sometimes we walk on Second Avenue with the grandchildren and strollers,” he told commissioners. “We wouldn’t be doing this if we didn’t consider it safe at all times.”

Bob Arns lives in Coombville. He called the Rapp ranch an integral part of the rural neighborhood.

“We hope that you will give them the entitlements to make this an economically viable proposition for them,” Arns said. “If not, we know what’s going to happen. There will be a corporate takeover.”

Gilbreth explained the code violations for the winery and horse center, saying in many cases they predated the Alkossers.

“We’re not here to assess blame or culpability,” Commissioner Anne Cottrell said.

But it’s worth noting that this is why there is due diligence, she said. The property owners’ role is to understand conditions on their properties and bring things into compliance.

You can reach Barry Eberling at 256-2253 or


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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.

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