Published on March 22nd, 2013 | by Charu Suri
2 Movie Material in the Heart of Napa Valley: Round Pond Winery & Estate
“It’s a scene from a Sofia Coppola movie,” said one guest as we drove down the road flanked by the lanky signature palms of Round Pond Winery. Indeed, I felt a bit like Marilyn Monroe (minus sunglasses and scarf) as I stepped off our coach, and gazed at the sweeping acres of Cabernet.
Round Pond Estate is not just your typical vineyard. It’s an experience where you can dine, drink, taste and see olives being pressed at the olive mill, and purchase unusual blends such as the Blood Orange infused artisan olive oils. A family owned and operated vineyard thoughtfully located in Rutherford in the heart of Napa Valley, Round Pond practices sustainable farming, and is committed to producing the finest wines using the Cabernet grape. This was one of the stops on my Trafalgar guided vacation.
Images above courtesy of Round Pond Estate (Bret Lyman/bnapa photos)
You can have a dining experience that’s better than top notch (think fresh grown local vegetables, fine artisanal cheeses), and enjoy a sumptuous view: one of the best you’ll ever see in Napa. At night, a cloudless sky showcases giant, dandelion-like stars, and during the day the California sun tangos on the fruit of the vines.
With the core philosophy that “there is no substitute for freshness,” the second generation MacDonnell family (brother and sister Ryan and Miles MacDonnell) has cared for and nurtured this part of the Valley and turned it into an estate that products choice wines, fresh olives and finely pressed olive oils. This is truly the heart of Cabernet country, and the family’s approach is very much one of controlling all the aspects of wine and vinegar making themselves, which leads to highly unique, specialized and flavorful products. Says Ryan MacDonnell, “We very much wanted a farm to table experience.”
Round Pond has 450 acres of estate, and 360 are devoted to the planting of grapes, and the estate takes great care of 2,200 olive trees. The products are both flavorful and unique: red wine vinegars, citrus syrups and more.
If you’re visiting Round Pound (assuming you can stop gawking at the view), here are some must trys:
Red Wine Vinegars: Crafted from the estate-grown grapes, the red wine vinegars are a robust partner to the Winery’s olive oils, and crafted using the revered Orleans method, a 200 year old technique where after a red wine is selected, a Mother Culture is introduced to transform the wine to vinegar. These vinegars are actually aged for 10 months in French oak, and are bottled in small batches by hand. The taste is unparalleled: depth, quality, elegance without the stinging “vinegar” pungency.
Citrus Syrups: Round Pond’s commitment is to not letting anything go to waste, and as they infuse their famous Blood Orange olive oils, they found themselves with a little extra juice on their hands. The result? Creating some juicy, sweet Blood Orange Citrus Syrup which have unmistakable orange-raspberry and spicy flavors, and have that gorgeous color. It’s as versatile as a Cirque du Soleil performer, and you can drizzle this syrup over your morning waffles.
Wines: When we visited Round Pond, we were fortunate to try some terroir-inspired wines such as the estate’s signature Sauvignon Blanc, including the pretty 2012 version, which is fragrant and filled with hints of apricot, citrus zest and confectionary.
At the end of the Round Pond experience, with the breeze blowing on my face, and the silhouettes of the stately palms standing lanky as we drove away, I felt very much like a movie star, convertible or no convertible.