Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Round Pond Estate

Round Pond Estate is a wonderful winery to visit and offers a number of very tempting options for tours and tastings, including one called "A Day in the Life" which is perhaps the ultimate in winery experiences where you "will be participating in a morning of harvesting Round Pond Estate grapes and helping the winemaker to craft a fine wine.  For the second half of the day you will enjoy Round Pond Estate wines and foods with an educational tasting experience and gourmet luncheon."  Round Pond does an amazing job of combining  excellent wines, with a beautiful scenic setting, lovely upstairs tasting areas with views, exemplary service and gourmet farm fresh cuisine from their olive orchards and vegetable garden.  It is no wonder we have heard so many people mentioned Round Pond as being one of their favorite wineries to visit. The name "Round Pond" refers to a serene retreat in New York where Bob MacDonnell use to spend many summers camping and relaxing.

Imagine sitting here tasting great wine and food.

Founded in Rutherford in 1983 by Bob and Jan MacDonnell, Round Pond continues to be a family owned winery that is now run by their two children Miles and Ryan.  Round Pond started solely as vineyard farmers, selling all of their grapes to other premium wineries within the Napa Valley.  They began producing their own wine in 2002, and opened to the public for tastings in 2007. Even today they use only about a third of their best grapes for production of their own wines, while selling the remaining two thirds.  The estate has 362 acres of vineyards, 5 acres of biodynamic gardens, 12 acres of Olive Orchards (2200 total trees) and an olive mill.

Outside the tasting building

They are one of only two olive mills in Napa Valley and separate tasting appointments can be made at the olive mill which is across the street from the winery.  They compare their fresh, award winning olive oil to freshly squeezed orange juice as contrasted to orange juice in a carton, and that is a very fair comparison.  Fresh olive oil is so much better than oil that has been stored for many months or years on grocery shelves. They also have a 200' by 50' biodynamically farmed vegetable garden that provides for food pairings and lunches, plus they produce their own red wine vinegars.


Demonstration olive grove.

When you first arrive at Round Pond you will enter at the reception desk and then be escorted upstairs to the second floor tasting room and patio where you will be offered bottled mineral water to start.  Tastings are at private tables where you will be pampered with one of the ultimate tasting experiences while you settle down, relax and unwind.  What a contrast to busy, stand up, wait-in-line tasting rooms where you can sometimes feel rushed or overwhelmed.  Our tasting was a sit down tasting at our own table, on the beautiful outdoor patio where each wine we tasted (each in separate glasses, of course) was paired with specially prepared gourmet delicacies, including food from their garden.  Our host, Kenn, almost made us feel as though we were dining at the French Laundry, he was so courteous and attentive, while allowing us ample time and privacy to taste, talk and just enjoy the setting.  We extend our thanks to Kenn, Carrie and the others who contributed to providing us with such a pleasant experience.

Inside the tasting room

Our first tasting was the Round Pond 2012 Rutherford Sauvignon Blanc that sells for only $24.  5,197 cases were produced. Aged sur lees in stainless steel with no exposure to oak, this Sauvignon Blanc is very true to the varietal.  A lovely pale gold in color with a decent nose.  On the palate I got fresh, bright grapefruit, melon and lemon along with some minerality.  It was well balanced, crisp and dry with a pleasant medium length finish.  It paired beautifully with the Japanese cucumber, zucchini and purslane salad with green goddess dressing that was offered with it.  It is a good value at this price point.  It should pair very well with seafood or spicier Asian foods.  Very nice for the price.

View north from the patio

Our second pour was the Round Pond 2010 Rutherford Cabernet Sauvignon at $60.  This is 84% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Petit Verdot and 6% Malbec.  70% of it was aged for 19 months in French oak. 4,628 cases were produced. Deep cherry/purple in color with black cherry, lovely fresh tobacco and forest floor on the nose.  On the palate it was deep black cherry with some blackberry, black currant and cedar and great tannins, all very well balanced, with good structure and a full body, followed by a medium to long finish.  This is an exceptional Cab at this price.  (In my tasting notes I rated it 93 points.)  The fried castelveltrano olives with garlic and thyme was a wonderful pairing.  This classic Rutherford Cab is very highly recommended!

One of the indoor tasting tables

The third pour was the Round Pond 2011 Rutherford Cabernet Sauvignon at $50.  This was 70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 18% Petit Verdot, 3% Malbec and 2% Merlot. It saw 70% new French oak for 19 months. 4,628 cases were produced.  When you taste this along side the 2010 Cab you will notice how different the two vintages are.  Although there are no really bad vintage years in Napa Valley (as their sometimes are in Bordeaux), Napa Valley vintages are certainly different from each other.  In this case we both had a definite preference for the 2010, but the 2011 is still young, and both will improve with age.  With the 2011 I got red cherry and black pepper on the nose.  On the palate I got black cherry, blackberry and vanilla with a medium length finish.  It was lighter in body and brighter than the 2010, but was still medium plus bodied for a Cab.  It is a nice Cab, but we both preferred the 2010.

Old Round Pond truck at entry way

For our last pour we were offered a special tasting of the Round Pond 2011 Proprietary Red Wine at $80. This is a blend of equal parts Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec and Petit Verdot.  I got black cherry, black currants and forest floor on the nose.  On the palate I got black cherry, black currants with baking spices and pepper, all silky smooth, lush and perfectly integrated.  I loved the great fresh fruit, perfect balance, long sensuous finish and immediate accessibility of this blend.  Very pleasant and well worth the asking price.  I felt rather self indulgent, even hedonistic tasting this seductive wine, which we very highly recommend!

Succulent garden & palm trees

We really enjoyed our visit to Round Pond.  It was so relaxing and beautiful, the wines and food so appealing and the service so...well, perfect.  You are not hurried at this winery.  Yes, they do require an advance reservation but the reward in intimacy, service and pure enjoyment makes it well worthwhile.  Round Pond is not just a winery to visit; it is an experience to savor.  A wonderful experience!

Grape vines just prior to harvesting

Round Pond Estate
875 Rutherford Road
Rutherford, CA 94573
Phone Toll-Free: 888-302-2575
Phone Local: 707-302-2575
Date of visit: September 25, 2013

Round Pond Estate requires an appointment for any wine tasting or tour and offers a wide range of interesting options including the Zinc Bar Tasting, Estate Tasting, Barrel Tour and Tasting, Il Pranzo Lunch, "A Day in the Life,"  Terrace Lounge (sunset tasting), and Private Dinners and Events.  Options Additional options are available for visiting their Olive Mill. A Garden to Table brunch is offered Sunday mornings. Please check their web page for current information.

Organic vegetable garden

Patio view toward Mayacamas Mountains

Patio view south

Patio view north toward entry drive


Patio view west

Window in tasting room facing entryway

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