The McConnell family has been farming in the Rutherford appellation for about 25 years, surrounded by such renown Napa Valley wineries as Beaulieu, Caymus and Cakebread to a name a few.
For most of that time, founder Bob MacDonnell farmed the vines and sold grapes to other wineries. The family estate, now run by MacDonnell’s grown children, Ryan and Miles, established Round Pond in 2005. It has been a huge success with the red wines regularly receiving 90 or more points from a variety of well-known critics.
The estate includes the vineyards, a separate parcel across Rutherford Road where Spanish and Italian olives are grown and processed as well as a huge garden in the vineyard to provide both the wine and olive oil tasting rooms with farm-fresh produce.
Incidentally, the name comes from founder Bob’s childhood in West Point, NY where his family spent many happy summer days at a nearby lake.
The tasting room and tables are located on the second floor with the best seats on the Terrace overlooking the vineyards with the Mayacama Mountains in the background. The McConnell family bought the Rutherford property after getting chased off their hillside property by a wild fire.
The winery offers a variety of tasting experiences that range from standing inside at the zinc bar to being seated on the patio for pairings to barrel room tours and tasting and finally the signature experiences. Those include a tour, tasting and a meal with food and wine pairing.
When we visited, we enjoyed the pairing ($50 per person) of four wines with small bites on the Terrace. It included the estate Sauvignon Blanc, grown on vineyards along the Napa River, as well as two reds. It was a perfect way to relax before riding back to the Harvest Table for dinner.
We started with the 2014 reserve Sauvignon Blanc ($42) that was paired with a cucumber and honeydew (melon) Gazpacho garnished with crispy prosciutto, basil and Meyer lemon infused olive oil. That was followed by the 2013 Rutherford Cab ($60} complimented by olive arrancini with fried olive risotto and roasted garlic aioli. Each small bite included an estate-produced olive oil.
We finished with the 2012 Proprietary Red Wine ($80) that was paired with a chili braised short rib sope with Dora’s tomato salsa, cilantro, Laura Chenel goat cheese and radish that was tired together with the chili-infused olive oil. Delightful way to finish.
By Tim Hunt