I had the
pleasure of lunch with Miles McDonald, one of the owners of Round Pond
Vineyards recently at the always-delicious Local Three restaurant. He and his delightful
sales director Diane Cline hosted a group of food bloggers, wine buyers and
restaurant folks for a show and tell of Round Pond wines, oils, and vinegar.
It’s no
secret that I love Round Pond wines. I was lucky enough to have been given a
personal tour with Miles a couple of years ago when I was in San Francisco for
the International Association of Culinary Professionals Conference. The winery
is just breathtaking; the organic gardens, the kitchens and the tasting rooms
are beyond wonderful. As always on a good tour with a knowledgeable guide, I
learned more about how wine is made and why some wines taste so good.
(If you’d
like to see some stunning photography as well as a fun story of my last visit
to Round Pond, take a look at the link to the wonderful blog from friend and rock-star-photographer Tina Case.)
The story
of Round Pond is as interesting as its many wines. What started as a Sunday
breakfast location for his father, Miles and his three sisters ended up as the
Round Pond winery, gardens, tasting room and olive oil mill.
Shed Red was the first Cabernet Sauvignon from the Round Pound farm’s grapes.
Miles said his  Dad made it so he could
taste the result of his hard work in the vineyard. Others agreed that it tasted
great, and today over 25,000 bottles are enjoyed by happy wine drinkers.
with 20 rows of vines in 1986, the first grapes from the property were sold to
Mike Grgich in 1986. Fast-forward 20 years and in 2002, in a quest to grow
better grapes for the (20 plus) wineries buying their grapes, Round Pond began
making wine. In 2007, the gorgeous tasting room opened, and they haven’t
stopped making luscious wine yet.
But, don’t
think this is one of the mega monolithic wineries dotting the Napa and Sonoma
valleys. Round Pond could make 100, 000 cases but make 25,000 cases. Although
they make a number of wines, from the incredible reserves to propriety and
Rutherford wines, (I love them all), my two favorites are the Sauvignon Blanc
and the Kith and Kin Cabernet Sauvignon.
apples, peaches, and citrus are three descriptors that immediately come to mind
when thinking about the luscious taste of 2014 Sauvignon Blanc. The harvest was
unique; picking the grapes three different times a week apart, with each
harvest the flavors of the grapes getting riper and juicier. The multiple
passes created complexity, aging in stainless creates the wines crisp and clean
flavors. The 2013 vintage is the only American Sav Blanc listed on Wine
Spectators Top 100 list. I think the 2014 is destined for laurels as well.
Kith and
Kin retails for only about $40, and if you are looking for a quintessential
California Cabernet Sauvignon, it delivers. When Wine Spectator recognized
their Rutherford Cab six years consecutively as over 90 points, that same Cab
was included in last year’s round up of “brick house” Napa Cabs. And, Round
Pond was the least expensive of the group!
Although I
could see the olive trees around the property, my previous trip did not include
the olive oil mill, tasting of the delicious vinegar or syrup sold on the farm.
To our delight, Miles had brought a great selection, allowing us to sample and
Milling of
the olives is a propriety practice at the farm, combining traditional stone
mill techniques with state-of-the-art technology. One of only two olive mills
in Napa, their bottling is done in small lots only, ensuring each customer of
getting only the best quality oil from the hand-harvested olives.
process works well, reflected in the spicy, zesty, pungent oils that I tried at
lunch. How fun to be able to taste and compare the differences and how the
olives from different countries reflected their heritage.
favorites and some of the most unusual were the blood orange and Meyer lemon
olive oils. Rich with the authentic flavor of the fruits, intensely fragrant,
adding the entire rind while crushing the olives makes them unique and
incredibly intense. Thinking about finishing a white fish from the grill with
one of these oils made me want to grab a bottle and run to the kitchen!
Both the
Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot blend and the Sangiovese/Petit Verdot blend of vinegars
we tasted were piquant and perfect. The bottles start with red wine from the
winery. They add a “mother” to transform the wine to vinegar and use
the artisanal Orleans method of aging in oak barrels for ten months. This
time-consuming process creates small lots of vinegar that are flavorful enough
to stand on their own or partner with olive oil.
If I’ve
piqued your interest in the wonderful wines, oils and vinegars of Round Pond,
its time to plan a trip! Until then, you can check out their wines, order and
indulge in the mouthwatering oils, vinegars and syrups at www.roundpond.com.  And don’t miss The
Feed by Round Pond with yummy recipes, behind the scenes scoop and special
offers. You can sign up at The Feed by Round Pond

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