As I drove down the long driveway studded with palm trees I knew I was in for something special. It started the moment I arrived, as the friendly concierge met me and escorted me upstairs. Round Pond is appointment only, which means your experience is generally personalized, they know who you are, it’s relaxed and there are no crowds to battle. On this visit I was in for an Estate tasting on the sunny outdoor terrace. The terrace has a large table for their lunch experience, and many small areas for individual tastings. From here you get a fantastic view of the vineyard, the organic garden, many of the olive trees.
Will, my host explained the estate’s farm-to-table philosophy that certainly comes through in the Estate Tasting. With pairings like Sauvignon Blanc with Halibut Ceviche (featuring the Estate’s own Meyer lemon citrus syrup), Cabernet Sauvignon with Beef Short Rib Croquette (featuring their Spanish Varietal olive oil), followed by another Cabernet Sauvignon paired with a Niman Ranch Beef Slider (featuring the Italian varietal olive oil) I got the point; fresh, high quality food grown right here in Napa pairs best with Napa’s wines. For me, the pairing was enough for lunch, and it was a great way to truly appreciate the wines. “Live like a local” is one of the winery’s philosophies and as I relaxed in the sun and savored my locally-grown treats I certainly felt like a local.
The table next to me was enjoying the Il Pranzo lunch, which seems like a great idea for groups. Will explained that Round Pond has a 5-acre biodynamic garden from which the chef sources the produce for the lunches and the pairings. For those interested in the garden you can pop down after your tasting to do your own walk through. I found doing one of these food-wine pairings is a great way to get the most out of a visit to Round Pond.
Round Pond is owned and operated by the second generation of MacDonnell family. Although they sustainably farm 357 acres of vineyards, they only produce wine from five percent of the grapes grown. The rest is sold to local vintners. Round Pond wines are mostly sold through their wine club or at the tasting room. In addition to farming grapes, the estate also produces olive oil from 12 acres of imported Mediterranean olive trees. The Round Pond Olive Mill is not at the same location as the winery, so plan that ahead of time if you want to do a olive oil tasting or experience there.
Visiting Round Pond is what I’d consider a well-rounded experience. Learning about wine is one thing, but getting to learn about pairings and the local produce grown in Napa adds another dimension that for the food lovers out there is money well spent. The terrace is a particularly relaxing place to spend some time. Plan to make Round Pond a lunchtime visit so you can get the most out of a pairing experience.
Wine tasting is always more fun with food pairings. There are not that many wineries in Napa that offer great food pairings, but this is one of them. I recommend you book the Estate Pairing to get the most out of your visit. If you have more time and are traveling with a group, you might want to consider the Il Pranzo lunch.
8/10 Overall visitor experience
9/10 Knowledge of guide
9/10 Architecture and design, landscaping
9/10 Other experiences: Pairings, Lunches, Olive Oil tastings at the Mill
9/10 Knowledge of tasting room staff
9/10 Friendliness of staff
8/10 Signage & ease of access
8/10 Quality of the wines poured
Appointment required: Yes
Address: 877 Rutherford Crossroad, Rutherford, CA 94573
Tasting room hours: N/A Appointment Only
Tasting fees and Experiences:
- $20 per person: Zinc Bar Tasting featuring three Round Pond wines. By appointment daily from 11:00am to 3:30pm. (30 min)
- $45 per person: Estate Tasting. Intimate sit down tasting of four wines paired with garden inspired appetizers. By appointment daily from 11:00am to 3:30pm. (1 hour)
- $55 per person: Barrel Tour & Tasting. Complete winery tour, barrel tasting followed by an intimate wine tasting paired with garden inspired appetizers. By appointment only at 11:00am daily. (1.5 hours)
- $80 per person: Il Pranzo Lunch. Includes a tour of our winery garden and olive groves, followed by an intimate lunch and olive oil tasting, all paired with wine. By appointment only at 11:30am Monday – Saturday.
At the Olive Mill:
- $15 per person: During the Summer months (June – October) you can stop by the Olive Mill and enjoy handcrafted olive oils and red wine vinegars without an appointment. From 2:00pm – 5:00pm every Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
- $35 per person – Olive Mill Tour and Tasting – unique and intimate olive mill tour in the heart of the Napa Valley. Learn about olive cultivation, harvest, and our artisan methods of olive oil production at our estate mill before immersing yourself in a guided tasting of our estate’s fresh oils and red wine vinegar blends. By appointment only and available at 10:00am, 12:30pm and 3:30pm daily. (1.5 hours) 4 person minimum, 10 persons maximum.
- Garden Experience:
- $100 per person – Garden to Table Brunch – includes a guided tour of our winery garden, followed by an intimate cooking demo by our winery chef followed by a full brunch. By appointment only Sunday’s at 10:00am. (2 hours) 4 person minimum.
Good for: Foodies and organic lovers, gardeners, olive oil connoisseurs
Wines produced: Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon
What’s nearby: Peju Winery, Alpha Omega Winery, Beaulieu Vineyard, Mumm Napa.
District/Appellation: Rutherford, Napa Valley
Contact for appointments: Reserve your visit online at VinoVisit
Date of visit: July 18, 2013