Napa wine tasting—If you only have one day (Part III)

Continued from Part I and Part II.

Whitehall Lane Winery Tasting Room

Feeling quite fortified after our sumptuous meal at Bouchon Bistro, we stepped out into the brilliant California sunshine and proceeded to our next stop, Whitehall Lane.

Whitehall Lane Winery

Easing into moderate holiday traffic we traveled north on Highway  29 for a short distance and arrived at the Leonardini family-owned Whitehall Lane, known for their robust Cabernet Sauvignon. The small tasting room was crowded when we arrived, but after a few moments several large groups departed and we had the tasting room almost to ourselves until we had finished our tasting.

Unique glass cork used at Whitehall Lane

Doug, our quirky wine server, kept us entertained with one-liners interspersed with his high-level descriptions of the wines he poured us and his demonstration of the three bottle closure systems currently being used. Whitehall Lane uses some screw tops, quite a bit of real cork, and an innovative closure system featuring a glass cork, designed to eliminate the problems that can arise from using natural cork, such as cork taint. The six wines we tasted included a good example of a non-grassy flavored Sauvignon Blanc, a well-balanced and fruity Pinot Noir and the Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, which lived up to it’s reputation as a rich wine with ripe tannins, oak flavor and black cherry. As the next wave of visitors swarmed into the tasting room we made our purchases quickly and departed.

Whitehall Lane is open from 10 a.m. to 5:45 p.m. and reservations are not required.  Private tastings and tours are available by reservation.

Whitehall Lane Winery
1563 St. Helena
St. Helena, CA 94574
800-963-9454 tasting room x 19 and main office x 10

Round Pond Winery

The deck at Round Pond Winery

Approaching the waning hours of our excursion through the wine country of Napa we traveled a short distance south on Highway 29, and turned east on Rutherford Road to reach the McDonald family-owned Round Pond Winery. Immediately we were proudly informed by Dina, our wine server, that their 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon had just been awarded 94 points by Wine Spectator, which, as she stated, “was quite an accomplishment for such a young winery”. While the Round Pond land has been producing grapes for decades, Miles McDonald just began producing his own wines in 2001, opening the spacious and airy 2nd floor tasting room in 2007. Miles’ sister Ryan handles the olive oil and citrus syrup end of the business.

Shelly & Nathan in the olive grove at Round Pond

We had a reservation for the Estate Tasting, which included a wine and food pairing and Dina had her hands full juggling several customers at once on this busy holiday weekend. She kept up a good pace, pouring three wines paired with a bite of foods showcasing other Round Pond products designed to enhance the wines. We tasted the 2009 Sauvignon Blanc, a favorite of our group, paired with a toast point topped with a bright green, coarsely textured fava-bean paste and tart Meyer Lemon syrup. The 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon, aged in new French Oak, was paired with a brightly flavored Carrot-Ginger soup with tangy Blood Orange Citrus Syrup. The soon-to-be extinct 2007 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon was accompanied by a creamy goat cheese spread with Swiss Chard and Italian Olive Oil. There is a bottle limit on the award winning 2007 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon. The open-air tasting room looks out over acres of vineyards with the Mayacamas Mountains in the background and is very pleasant.

We made our selections, which included a variety of wines, olive oil, and vinegar and one person joined the wine club

Round Pond is open from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Reservations are required for all tastings and tours. The Estate tasting is $25 and there are several other tours and tastings, including olive oil tastings, to choose from.

Round Pond Winery
875 Rutherford Road
Rutherford, CA 94573

Heading Home

Our group agreed that this was one perfect day in Napa. The weather cooperated, bringing plentiful sunshine, the wines were excellent, the food sublime. What could be better than enjoying the company of friends and family over a few glasses of wine and a fine meal in such an exquisite environment? Darioush, Whitehall Lane and Round Pond offered some of the best wines of the Napa Valley, and Bouchon Bistro, with it’s culinary excellence, is not be missed.