Local Nevada County llama becomes Grand National Champion | TheUnion.com

Local Nevada County llama becomes Grand National Champion

Sapaveco’s Champagne Elegance, a llama owned by Rick and Mary Adams of Grass Valley, is 2015 Grand National Grand Champion
Submitted b y Joel Armstrong |

Two years ago, while picking up an Argentine llama from breeders at Sapaveco Ranch in Florence, Colorado, Mary Adams fell in love with a 1-week-old baby llama.

She even helped name the animal, Sapaveco’s Champagne Elegance.

A year later, Adams and her husband, Rick, were at a competition in Texas, when they crossed paths with the llama again.

“She was just so magnificent. She grew up into such a fine animal. We wanted to add her to our breeding program,” said Mary Adams.

“A lot of it has to do with her presence. When she goes out into the show ring she acts like she owns it. When she walks she just kind of glides. It just comes naturally. If it’s a good blood line, it’s a natural thing.” Mary Adams

She and Rick own Wild Oak Llamas, located off Greenhorn Road in Grass Valley. The couple buys, sells and shows llamas all over the country.

That fateful day in October, they convinced the owners of Sapaveco’s Champagne Elegance to sell her.

Now, a year later, the Adams are the proud owners of a national champion.

Sapaveco’s Champagne Elegance recently became the 2015 Grand National Grand Champion at the Alpaca Llama Show Association’s Grand National Show in Park City, Kansas.

“I haven’t touched the ground yet. It’s pretty special. These are the champions against champions. She is the best of the best,” said Mary Adams, who cried when the announcement was made. The last time she had Grand National winners was in 2008.

“I was so nervous. I was very confident when I left here, because she wins everywhere I take her,” said Mary Adams.

At this competition, Sapaveco’s Champagne Elegance was up against animals she hadn’t competed with on the West Coast.

Emotions were running high among the tight knit band of llama breeders, many of them friends in an industry that has seen highs and lows in the last decade.

Sapaveco’s Champagne Elegance dazzled them all with her charm.

“A lot of it has to do with her presence. When she goes out into the show ring she acts like she owns it. When she walks she just kind of glides. It just comes naturally. If it’s a good blood line, it’s a natural thing,” said Mary Adams.

The competition marked the end of Sapaveco’s Champagne Elegance’s career as a show animal and the beginning of her breeding life.

It all started for the Adams in 1999, when the husband and wife acquired their first docile llamas, gentle enough to be around grandchildren and a good fit for their 5-acre parcel in Vacaville.

In 2004, the couple discovered Grass Valley when visiting the area for a llama show.

“We got addicted. We moved up to Grass Valley because of the llamas,” said Mary Adams.

In 2005, the couple started Wild Oak Llamas with 14 animals with the intention of being a one-stop shopping place for people looking to start a herd. At its height, the program grew to 65 animals.

The earliest mention of domesticated llamas dates from 1511.

Found throughout regions of the Incan Empire, the animals were prized as beasts of burden and for their fiber.

Llamas live at various latitudes and altitudes, from Chile to Colombia, from the coast of Peru to 16,400 feet above sea level.

Mary and Rick Adams breed Argentine and Suri llamas. The Argentine adds the strong, big bone to the llama’s frame and enhances the density of the fiber. The Suris are known for their mild temperament.

Soon after the Adams invested in the business, the economy took a dive. The demand and value for llamas declined. Nevertheless, the Adams remain self-proclaimed “llamaholics,” dedicated to the lifestyle, researching bloodlines to find the perfect combination of beauty, conformation, fiber, presence and disposition.

Every animal they raise is registered by the International Llama Registry.

“We’re still hooked on them. We love them and we’re doing everything we can to improve the blood lines,” said Mary Adams.

For more information, visit http://www.wildoakllamas.com.

Contact freelance writer Laura Petersen at laurapetersen310@gmail.com or 530-913-3067.

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