This month's Platinum Series features Round Pond Estate 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon and Crane Brothers' 2005 Napa Valley Merlot, both from California's Napa Valley. Round Pond, named for a small pond in West Point, New York, was a favorite childhood spot for Robert MacDonnell, the owner of the Napa vineyards that produce Round Pond wines. His children, Miles and Ryan MacDonnell are responsible for bringing Round Pond Estate into the ranks of upper-echelon Napa Valley wine producers. The MacDonnell family began acquiring Napa acreage in 1980 and sold their fruit to nearby wineries including Robert Mondavi, Beaulieu and Sterling Vineyards. In the 1990's the family began producing a small amount of wine for themselves and as gifts for friends and family. In 2001, Miles decided to enter the family into the wine making business in earnest. Learning from the customers who had bought their grapes over the years, they honed their skills in choosing specific grapes to make each wine unique. Their first release in 2002 was well received by both the industry press and consumers alike. The Round Pond Estate winery aims to remain small, producing just 4,500 cases this year. They pride themselves with keeping it 'all in the family'. Miles manages the winery, his sister Ryan does marketing and sales, their mother Jannine runs the tasting facility and Robert consults on all decisions regarding the winery. Round Pond Winery was recently named One of the Top 20 to Watch: Exciting Cabernet Labels in Wine Spectator magazine. The Round Pond Estate 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon was crafted sustainably from vineyard blocks of the winery's finest fruit. The soil and climate in Rutherford region are known as the best possible for the production of California Cabernet's. This wine was awarded 91 points from Wine Enthusiast, named one of the Top Ten Wines of 2008 by the San Francisco Chronicle and received a Double Gold Medal at the American Fine Wine Competition. The Crane Family of Crane Ranch Vineyard are third generation Napa Valley residents and the first generation of their family to enter into the wine industry. Thirteen years ago they acquired nine acres in the Oak Knoll appellation in West Napa Valley and contracted their spectacular fruit to Stags Leap Winery. Like the MacDonnell family, they began producing wine for themselves, friends and family to rave reviews and much encouragement. Their first production for the general public appeared in 2001 receiving similar accolades. Michael Crane believes that the success of his wines relies on the specificity with which he handles his vineyards, deliberately producing low yields for better fruit. He personally tends to his vineyards making sure the work is done correctly. "I treat our vines the very best way possible and they reward me by delivering spectacular fruit", says Crane. He works with winemaker Al Perry, a 25 year veteran of Napa Valley wine making. Additionally, Crane Brothers' wines are single-vineyard, estate-bottled allowing the Cranes to hit excellent price values that consumers are looking for. The Crane Brothers plan to stay small in order to maintain attention to detail and control over quality. There were only 140 cases produced of this month's Wine of the Month Club offering: Crane Brothers 2005 Napa Valley Merlot. The wine received 91 points from Connoisseur's Guide and 90 points from Wine Enthusiast. It is described as big, rich, complex and well balanced. Gold Medal Wine Club hopes you enjoy these Platinum Series selections. The Platinum Series is our upper-level, ultra-premium wine club featuring wines rated 90 or higher.The Platinum Series also includes some pre-releases and exclusives made available to only our members. As always, these wines are available for re-order in our wine store- with significant discounts for all members of each of our five wine clubs. Please let us know what we thought of these wonderful Napa Valley wine selections.