Bright and early on the last day of my trip with Trafalgar, the group headed out to Round Pond Estate, an olive oil orchard and winery in Rutherford (near Napa).
Like the wine blending we did at Ravenswood Winery this spot is considered a ‘Local Specialty from Trafalgar’s Northern California guided vacations, and it is very special. Round Pond Estate is by far the most beautiful winery I have ever been to and I plan on returning with Mr. Misadventures.
Our first stop was to the orchard and the olive mill and pressing facility. The olives are pressed once a year and we were actually lucky enough to be there on the first day of the harvest so the place was bustling as teams prepared to start the picking and pressing process. We were met by Kelly who shared the history of the property, its specifics, the milling process and taught us how to do olive oil tasting.
The orchard has 2200 trees with 8 varietals of olives, 5 Italian and 3 Spanish. It takes one hour to pick the fruit of one tree. One tree equals three bins (the blue box in the photo below) of olives and 3 bins equals one gallon of the liquid gold.
The olives are immediately milled after they are picked because Round Pond built its own mill. That is not common as most farmers must pick their olives and take them to a mill. The fruit begins oxidizing immediately so if the trip to the mill takes a while they aren’t as fresh and they also risk bruising in transport.
Round Pond makes eight different olive oils which they bottle on demand, allowing for maximum freshness. The olives are crushed pits and all. In addition, for the flavored versions of the oils, rinds (blood orange or lemon) are also pressed with the fruit.
Before tasting the blood orange as well as a “regular” Italian varietal, we had to first learn how to do a proper tasting. Since it was a little on the chilly side (although bright and sunny) the first thing we had to do was warm the beautiful blue glass in our hands, sort of like what you do with a good cognac. Then we took in the rich odor of the oil, took a sip and made some pretty disgusting sound noises as we gurgled it around in our mouths!
I love olive oil, so I could have stood there for hours smelling and tasting all the varieties, but alas we made our way to the wine side of the property.
The winery building is breathe-taking. Being the exceptional photographer I am (read: sarcasm) I took completely horrible shots of the interior, but you can see a glimmer of what it looks like in this article from one of the Bay Area newspapers.
There is a ton of natural light and beautiful wood wherever you look and the terrace looking out on to the vineyard is beautiful. The fireplace makes it a perfect spot in cooler weather to sit out and watch the sunset with a lovely glass of wine.
We tried several of their wines each paired with a delicious bite of food designed by the winemaker, all extremely tasty. I would have bought some of their olive oils but they were sold out of nearly every flavor and the new batches won’t be ready for prime time in March, so the calendar is marked for a return trip to do some shopping.
It was another exceptional experience that I had the pleasure of partaking in thanks to the #Trafalgar2012 team and each new activity or meal only further sold me on the fact that a Trafalgar tour is definitely in my future.
Disclosure: I was a guest of Trafalgar for a tour in San Francisco and Napa. I was not required to write this post, nor am I being compensated for doing so. All opinions are 100% my own.