A Summer Retreat On Round Pond

As a child, Bob MacDonnell spent many happy summers at the family retreat near Lake Frederick in the Adirondacks. It was an idyllic childhood of camping and playing that forged lasting memories. So when Bob and Jan MacDonnell acquired a patch of land in Rutherford in the early 1980s, they named it after the New York family retreat they hoped would inspire a lifetime of joy, relaxation, and family gatherings. That place was called Round Pond.

The MacDonnell’s children, Ryan and Miles, grew up on the Rutherford estate, camping and playing in the vineyards and riding 4-wheelers up and down the valley. Today, the siblings are raising their own young families on Round Pond.

Ryan and Miles MacDonnell

Round Pond Estate is a hidden gem, tucked away from the main road down a long, palm tree-lined driveway surrounded by 360 acres of vines, 12 acres of olive orchards, and five acres of organic gardens. It’s a summer retreat, Napa Valley style, where guests can play, relax, and dine exploring the farm and Round Pond’s fine estate wines, olive oils, red wine vinegars, and citrus syrups.

Roasted carrot salad with avocado and crunchy quinoa with Round Pond Blood Orange Olive Oil.

One of our favorite things to do in Wine Country is dine in the middle of the vineyards and Round Pond’s alfresco Il Pranzo lunch ($120 per person) is a perfect example. This relaxing experience begins with a tour of their winery gardens and olive groves followed by a guided tasting of their estate-made olive oils and vinegars. It ends with a delicious repast infused with the freshest summer ingredients from the garden, paired with Round Pond wines. On a recent visit, we had gorgeous dishes of vegetables, salads, Tuna Niçoise “Toast,” and artisanal cheeses, ending with a Meyer Lemon Olive Oil Cake with fresh berries. The dishes paired perfectly with Round Pond’s 2014 Rutherford Sauvignon Blanc and the limited production 2014 Proprietary Rosato di Nebbiolo. I loved this crisp and dry rosé made by winemaker Muiris Griffin in the classic Provençal style.

For a more interactive foodie experience, plan a half-day of garden foraging, cooking lessons, and alfresco brunch on Sundays with their Garden to Table Brunch ($150 per person).

If you want to simplify your trip but seek the complete Napa Valley experience, spend a day riding around Round Pond on their red truck. On the Signature Tour ($250 per person), the guest experience includes visits to the vineyards and winery with a special tasting of their signature Gravel Series single-vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon wines; the modern Olive Mill, one of only two in the region, where you’ll learn the artisanal process of making olive oil as well as taste; the Vinegar Acetaia where they hand-craft barrel-aged red wine vinegars including Balsamico; and the biodynamically farmed estate garden for a sensory tour ending with their alfresco Il Pranzo lunch. The visit also includes a stop down at the Napa River to taste honey from their bee hives as well as learn what Round Pond and its Rutherford neighbors are doing to restore the natural habitat of the river. It’s an essential part of understanding what Napa Valley is all about.

Kick off your endless summer on the longest day of the year at Round Pond’s Summer Solstice party ($125 per person) on Saturday, June 20 from 7pm-10pm. Plan on a festive dinner and dancing to live music in the historic Pole Barn overlooking the vines and the beautiful setting sun.

Round Pond is open daily for tastings and experiences by appointment only. In addition to the signature experiences, Round Pond also offers shorter wine and Olive Mill tours and tastings, please check the website for more details.

Visit: 875 Rutherford Road, Rutherford

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