Round Pond Winery Makes a Splash

Whether it’s sipping wine on the sun-drenched terrace, savoring gourmet bites in the tasting lounge or hanging out on the crush pad, at the Round Pond winery you select the indulgence.

“They built a facility devoted to the guest experience; the sites, the visuals, the space, the feel…the comfort of it all,” says Khristopher Lund, the estate wine educator.

With their new state-of-the-art structure in Rutherford and gifted winemaker Cary Gott, Wine Spectator has predicted the Round Pond winery will achieve “cult” status. The San Francisco Chronicle ranked their wines in “The Top 100 for 2007″.

The accolades continue to flow in.

Khristopher initiates the visit by offering their 2005 Petite Verdot. We sip at a rustic, hardwood table amidst lofty shelves of aging wine. “The family immediately started a ‘library program’ and they really have an honest enthusiasm for the style of wine they’re making,” he remarks.

The garnet wine opens with an inviting aroma of dark cherry then melds into black currant and exits on lengthy, chewy tannins. I quickly understand what the ‘buzz’ is about.

An articulate guide and educator, Khristopher tells of the rich history behind the property stretching back to the days of Napa frontiersman, George Yount. We then stroll through the crush pad and journey up to the second floor’s tasting lounge.

Natural light illuminates the airy room from an enormous skylight and a seamless array of bay windows. Scenes of the vineyards are captured from every angle. A versatile assortment of oak tables and plush sofas cordially invite comfort and privacy.

Khristopher presents a vertical tasting of Round Pond’s Cabernet Sauvignon paired with three succulent ‘amuse-bouche’ prepared by winery chef, Dana Robbers. “When you do the Estate Tasting, you are tasting olive oil, produce and wine all from our single plot of land in the heart of wine country. It’s a whole different approach,” states Khristopher.

Balancing their 2002 Cab, a sliver of Petaluma duck confit rests on a crostini drizzled with a pomigranite and orange reduction. This hardy red comes to life with cherry while blackberry adorns the mid-palate and allspice blends into the finish. The salty-sweet tone of the cuisine brings the wine’s flavor to soaring heights while the duck’s fattiness softens the tannin structure.

The 2003 Cab catapults raspberry and rose pedal notes above the glass then unifies with plum and bows down for a terroir-inspired finish. Its counterpart is a little Torta of scrambled eggs, sun chokes, baby leeks, green garlic, calimata olives and a dab of Round Pond’s Meyer lemon olive oil. When paired, the calimata’s salinity divides this Cab’s big fruit layers thus exposing some hidden gems.

The flavor pendulum swings another direction with the 2004 Cab. A “jammy” fusion of ripened strawberry and cranberry intermingle while classic Rutherford earthiness completes the mouthfeel. On the plate, a “house made” buttermilk and herb cracker displays a medley of roasted garden beets, diced Cara Cara orange topped with crumbled Pt. Reyes Bleu and pine nuts dressed with their Blood Orange olive oil. Complementing, the pine nuts and beets lay the path for the Cab’s earthy tones. On the flip side, the bleu cheese stands as a bold contrast to the red’s immense fruit and turns it down a notch.

“The comfort level here allows us to really tailor the guest experience,” Khristopher remarks.

We venture onto the flagstone walkway of the terrace for what seems like an endless view of their vineyard. Meticulous attention to detail, in and out of the winery, has ensured that Round Pond is making its mark. Bob and Jan MacDonnell now farm more than 350 acres of grapes for some of Napa’s premier wineries. They also tend to orchards for their own olive oil label.

Second generation, Ryan and Miles contributed to the family’s portfolio when they became vintners in 2001. As land stewards, all of their efforts are considered organic.

If you’re still hungry for more, Round Pond’s olive mill offers one of the best tours in the valley. Sample their premium variety of vinegars and olive oils dressed on juicy heirloom tomatoes, butter lettuce and a bounty of other seasonal produce harvested fresh from their gardens.

Although fresh faced in the wine arena, the Round Pond winery is blowing expectations out of the water.

By James Claus
Copyright 2008 Artisan Wine Tours, LLC