Round Pond Estate Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Round Pond Estate is much more than just a winery in Rutherford, California. It’s a destination in Napa. Considered one of the most prestigious wineries with stunning views, Round Pond also has another side to their business that is gaining attention – the olive mill.
The Olive Mill at Round Pond
The Round Pond Olive Mill is located across the street from the winery, sitting between beautiful vineyards and olive groves. This is a place where the best of both worlds meet. The grapes from the vineyards are not only for Round Pond’s wines, but also their hand crafted vinegars. The olives grown in the groves produce Round Pond’s extra virgin olive oils. We intend to savor all three!
We drive down a small lane and approach a modern style building with floor to ceiling paned window walls along one side. The building style is not typical of Napa Valley and nothing like the stately building that houses their winery, however we find that the beauty lies in what you see and experience behind the transparent walls while you visit.
We take it all in and make the mill our home for the next 1 1/2 hours. There are only five of us attending the tour today. Round Pond keeps the gatherings small as it makes for a more personal and intimate experience. Nice touch! As our hostess prepares for our tasting, we mill around (pun intended), socialize, and get to know one another.
Connie, our guide, starts us out with a glass of wine so we can relax and enjoy our surroundings. We hear the story behind Round Pond’s history and find out the olive trees planted on their estate are Italian and Spanish varietals. The olives are hand harvested and pressed within hours of picking. How is that possible, you ask? Round Pond is one of the few producers in Napa that actually has a state of the art olive mill and stone press on site, creating fresh extra virgin olive oil, literally from tree to table!
We are invited to sit down in the tasting room inside the modern building faced with windows, allowing you to still enjoy the beauty that lies outside. The sunshine streams through the windows, warming a cool metal table that is meticulously set for our tasting. Colorful plates, official blue olive oil tasting glasses (so you can’t see the color of the oil and make judgments), and a divided dish with sugar cubes await us. The presentation is spectacular and makes you feel like you are a professional olive oil evaluator. Pens are also provided for note taking – a detail that is adopted from their top notch wine tasting. Bread, cheese, and organic produce from the garden are splashed across the table, displaying bright colors and wonderful aromas.
We are taught how to sip, slurp, and savor each oil to experience their unique flavors. We try garlic, basil and rosemary infused oils that inspire me to make lamb-chops. We also try Blood Orange and Meyer Lemon olive oils with just a hint of flavor to capture your attention. Perfection! But how? Round Pond crushes just the skin of the fruit along with the olives, adding a subtle essence of the fruits flavor to the oil. Therefore, the oil is a perfect complement to a wide variety of dishes and won’t overpower your food.
Not knowing exactly how the sugar cubes fit into the tasting process, we quickly find out as Round Pond’s artisan Red Wine Vinegars are unveiled next. Created using the Orleans Method, a 200 year old technique originating in France, the vinegars are aged in French oak barrels for 10 months. Round Pond doesn’t sacrifice quality and knows that good things come to those who wait. Cabernet-Merlot and Sangiovese-Nebbiolo Red Wine Vinegars are sprinkled over the sugar cubes for us to suck on and taste. Knowing how tart vinegars can be, I presume the sugar cubes help prevent you from making a sourpuss face, another nice touch. We are allowed to play with our food (something my mother would frown upon) and experiment with blending and mixing the different flavored oils and vinegars of our own choosing. We make vinaigrette to dress our fresh green salad topped with slices of chicken breast and garden fresh vegetables. But wait, there’s more! Round Pond Citrus Syrups sweeten our day as they are drizzled over cheese and fruit. Need I go on? Yes, because the best is yet to come!
We feel privileged as Connie lets us taste what is behind closed doors. Round Pond’s Olio Nuovo is resting in stainless steel tanks, waiting to be released. One taste of this fresh oil was all it took to win us over. Preferring a more robust olive oil, we quickly decide that the “new oil” is our favorite of the day and choose a beautiful amber colored bottle to store the golden liquid. Wrapped with raffia and a signature gift tag from Round Pond Estate, I take great pleasure in giving it to myself as a special gift to treasure. I love and appreciate a beautiful presentation and Round Pond meets my expectations and excels on all levels.
Round Pond takes Old World traditions and combines them with modern technology to create delicious extra virgin olive oils, infused oils, and red wine vinegars. Enticing famous foodies such as Giada and Rachael Ray, Round Pond is a “must stop and see” if you are in the Napa Valley. If you want your visit to be extra special, try to attend their Fresh Oil Day. You won’t be disappointed!
Photographs taken by The Grove & Co. at Round Pond Olive Mill in Rutherford, CA.