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Round Pond Estate

Wine Country Personality

Miles and Ryan MacDonnell

With the unveiling of a beautiful new winery and tasting room this past summer, Round Pond Estate took another step in establishing itself as one of Napa Valley's great young wineries. Guided by the dynamic brother and sister team of Miles and Ryan MacDonnell, Round Pond is a small, family-owned and operated winery located in the heart of the Rutherford winegrowing region. And though the MacDonnell siblings only released their inaugural 2002 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon a few years back, they are far from being the new kids on the block. In fact, Miles and Ryan grew up playing amongst the very same vine rows, where they grow the grapes for their sought-after wines.

The roots of Round Pond stretch back a quarter century. In 1983, Miles and Ryan's parents, Bob and Jan MacDonnell, founded the original Round Pond property. In a nod to his favorite boyhood camping and fishing spot near lake Frederick in West Point, New York, Bob named the site Round Pond. Passionate about their land, the MacDonnell's quickly built a reputation for Round Pond as a sought-after source for some of the finest grapes in Rutherford, regularly selling their fruit to several of the region's finest wineries.

Surrounded by vineyards and gardens, Miles and Ryan grew up with a connection to the land and an appreciation for great wine and food. And though they both left Round Pond as adults to pursue respective, successful careers in business and law, the lure of life in wine country, and the chance to work with their parents to take the family business to the next level, soon drew Miles and Ryan back.

Miles returned in 2001, with the goal of building a small estate wine program for Round Pond. "Making our own wines seemed like such a natural evolution," says Miles. "So much about great winemaking reflects what happens in the vineyard. Our family had already been focusing on that part of the equation for nearly 25 years." Collaborating with renowned winemaker Cary Gott, Round Pond crafted its first limited-production wines in 2002. In addition to producing an outstanding Cabernet Sauvignon, the winery also bottled a vibrant and exotic Nebbiolo.

Soon afterwards, Ryan became the second sibling to join the family business. A dedicated foodie, Ryan saw the potential for Round Pond to make its mark as a producer of gourmet specialty foods. " Our estate is an special place, with vineyards, gardens, orchards and olive groves, all farmed using thoughtful, sustainable farming practices. It's just filled with these incredible natural flavors. Miles saw that and wanted to make wine. I saw the same thing and wanted to make artisan olive oils, barrel-aged red wine vinegars and other delicious gourmet items."

Today, the two siblings work as a team, guiding both Round Pond winery and the specialty food program. "Miles and I have become partners in all of this," says Ryan. "It's great. I get to see my brother every day. My kids get to see their uncle. And together, we are carrying on and growing the legacy begun by our parents."

Like Miles and Ryan, their parents Bob and Jan, have their own house and live on the property. "It's wonderful that we can go to them for advice," says Miles. "They started all of this, and we still benefit from their wisdom. Our mother brings this amazing sense of form and beauty that informs the gardens, the design and the architecture of the estate. Dad is the entrepreneur with years and years of business experience."

Like their parents, Miles and Ryan have complementing skills. They also share an amusing brother-sister dynamic. "Ryan and I really balance each other out, " says Miles. "I do the work, she takes the credit (Miles, is a consistent jokester, while his sister Ryan, seems to have honed the role of straight man)." In actuality, Miles focuses the majority of his energy on back of the house operations such as viticulture, winemaking and production, while Ryan takes the lead on sales, marketing and Round Pond's growing hospitality program.

Reflecting this hospitality program, the recent unveiling of Round Pond's state-of-the art winery and second-story tasting room represents the culmination of a dream for Miles and Ryan. "We wanted to create a space reflecting who we are, and what we love," says Ryan. "We wanted our winery to be a place where friends could come and visit, and share a glass of wine in a beautiful and unpretentious setting." With a fireplace, and a covered deck offering panoramic views of the vineyards and the Mayacamas Mountains, the new Round Pond winery does just that.

In addition to winery tours and tastings, Round Pond also offers tastings of its gourmet specialty products at its traditional stone olive mill. To learn more about the many tour options call 1.877.963.9364, or visit www.roundpond.com.