Bernardus Lodge - Gentrified Country Elegance and Luxury, with Amazing Locally-Inspired Wine, Food and a Rejuvenating Spa
With the resources to locate anywhere in the world, Ben Pon chose Carmel Valley to establish Bernardus Winery and Vineyards in 1989. His dream - to create a wine worthy of his legacy. Inspired by his success, he expanded his vision to include a luxury resort - Bernardus Lodge - complete with award-winning cuisine from Chef Cal Stamenov, a Grand Award wine list from Wine Spectator, and a signature spa. For a relaxing getaway, an off-site retreat, or romantic wedding, discover why Bernardus has become the luxurious heart of Carmel Valley.
Nestled among the oaks and vineyards of scenic Carmel Valley, savor the gracious intimacy of a resort with epicurean flair. Feather beds, cozy fireplaces and over sized bathtubs for two. Vintage wine and cheese welcome. A "wine grotto" mini bar. The spa's meditation garden, warming room and soaking pool. And dining at Marinus, voted one of the Zagat's top restaurants in the Bay Area.
About the Owner
Bernardus Marinus Pon
The crest of the Bernardus wine label is colored orange, the royal Dutch color and the noble lions guarding the shield represent Ben's heritage. His is a family legacy to uphold. Ben Pon, Sr. imported the first Volkswagen "Beetle" to America and created the design for the revolutionary VW bus. Ben imagines carrying on this tradition contributing to the greatness of America from a European perspective; and leaving something of importance behind in the New World.
Ben and his wife, Ingrid, chose the Carmel Valley. They believe in its potential to be the best viticultural appellation in America for traditional Bordeaux-style red wines. Ben's passion for Carmel Valley has now extended beyond wine. With the same pioneer spirit that created Bernardus Winery and Vineyards, Ben and Ingrid embarked upon the Bernardus Lodge. With 57 sumptuous suites, Marinus restaurant featuring award-winning chef Cal Stamenov, culinary and viticultural seminars, and a full-service spa and salon, Bernardus Lodge is a natural extension of the distinctive Bernardus legacy of perfection.
Carmel Valley is one of the most beautiful places in the world," says Ben, a man who divides his time between Amersfoort, Holland, Somerset, England, and the Carmel Valley, and travels year-round as a citizen of the world.
Ben is a bon vivant in the Old World tradition with an enthusiastic perspective of life. A professional sportsman, Ben was a race car driver for Porsche for many years, racing six times in Le Mans. He averaged 125 miles per hour in his best race, and says the thrill for him was in driving at the limit. Ben was also an athlete for Holland in skeet shooting during the 1972 Olympics. In skeet shooting the goal is to aim where the clay pigeon is going to be. Perhaps that is why Ben doesn't say that 2% of Americans drink wine. He says, "98% of the people are not drinking wine yet." Ben is shooting at where it's going to be.
Ben had a passion for racing cars and he won. He enjoyed skeet shooting and shot in the Olympics. Ben envisions making Carmel Valley red wine equal to the finest Bordeaux. Bernardus…taste a dream.
Michael J. OprishManaging Director
Managing Director, Michael Oprish directs and oversees all daily operations of Bernardus Lodge and Bernardus Vineyards & Winery to ensure the enduring Bernardus’ signature service, commitment to excellence and products. He brings more than 25 years of experience to the helm, having been the opening general manager of Timber’s Resort newest addition to their collection, The Sebastian-Vail. Oprish’s extensive resume also includes senior roles such as vice president and general manager of Bernardus Lodge, general manager of The Quail Lodge in Carmel, as well as being room manager of The Peaks Resort and Spa in Telluride, Colorado, and Carefree Resorts in Carefree, Arizona.
A resident of Carmel Valley, Oprish is an active member of the community. He has past served as President of the Monterey County Hospitality Association, Chair of the Monterey County Visitor's and Convention Center and Vice President of Carmel Valley Chamber of Commerce. He currently sits on the Executive Committee for Monterey County Visitor's and Convention Bureau.
Chef and Culinary Director
Chef and Culinary Director
Cal Stamenov is chef and culinary director—the creative visionary—for the dining venues of Bernardus Lodge, the 57- guestroom resort located in Carmel Valley, CA. In his position, Stamenov is responsible for the award-winning restaurant, Marinus, and the resort’s more casual bistro, Wickets. He also oversees the culinary operations for Will’s Fargo Dining House & Saloon in Carmel Valley Village.
Stamenov’s cuisine is rooted in the subtle yet elegant uses of local organic produce and seafood, and artisan farmed meats. His menus bring out the pure flavors of each fresh ingredient and seamlessly incorporate the herbs, vegetables and myriad varieties of indigenous tomatoes he grows in his own two-acre garden at Bernardus Lodge.
To share his wealth of epicurean experiences, which span more than 20 years in some of the world’s most renowned restaurants, Stamenov inspired a series of seasonal culinary arts programs at Bernardus. These seminars, which cater to food and wine connoisseurs (namely Bernardus guests), bring to light the seasonal specialties of the region while simultaneously showcasing a selection of wines from the nearby Bernardus Winery and Vineyard.
Ever since he can remember, Cal Stamenov has been at home in the kitchen. Cooking is the passion and dream that shaped his life since childhood. A country man at heart, he grew up on the California Central Coast in a rural area outside of San Francisco. He was lucky to discover his talent and passion early in life: love of the land, of good food and cooking. Without doubt, he entered culinary training right out of high school. After graduation in 1983, Cal entered the suitcase phase of his life, and for the next 15 years hopped around the world.
When an opportunity came to return to Northern California he was ready to come back to his roots. On the Central Coast there are quality ingredients from the land and from the sea at his fingertips. His friendships with the local fisherman, growers and foragers are truly invaluable. The highlights of his day is having a fisherman drop off one hundred pounds of Monterey Bay spot prawns fresh from the ocean or a forager unexpectedly arriving at the kitchen door with a basket of chanterelle mushrooms from Big Sur. With a fusion of vineyards and gardens literally at his kitchen door, Chef Cal easily embraces the foods he loves most - wood fired grills, California olive oils, garden-fresh vegetables and herbs, wines and vines and natural flavors.
At Bernardus Lodge, guests can enjoy Chef Cal Stamenov’s California Natural Cuisine in two unique dining rooms on property; Marinus Restaurant and Wickets Bistro. These venues offer the best of Carmel Valley wine country living from the lush mountain views, extensive wine selections and distinctive ingredients. Marinus at Bernardus Lodge has been enjoying high praise since the resort opened in 1999, and has won Wine Spectator magazine’s highly coveted “Grand Award” for its wine cellar since 2001. Marinus has received 4-stars from the Mobil Travel Guide for its outstanding menu, service and ambiance. Since 2001, the Zagat Survey has noted Marinus as one of the Top Restaurants and Most Romantic places south of San Francisco.
Chef Cal makes a practice of partnering with local charities, particularly those having to do with schools and environmental issues. He is the honorary Co-Chair of Dinner in the Vineyard; MEarth’s annual fundraiser that benefits the thousands of students from across Monterey County who experience, learn, and grow with MEarth at the Hilton Bialek Habitat. In addition, he donates his time participating in events such as Cooking for Solutions, Pebble Beach Food and Wine and the Monterey Wine Education Foundation. For several years Stamenov was at the helm of several annual and prestigious international gatherings such Masters of Food & Wine event and The Quail Motorsports Rally.
Chef Cal lives just a few miles down the road from Bernardus Lodge with his family in one of the most beautiful and desirable corners of the world. He has dogs, cats, goats and chickens, and his three girls spend most of the year enjoying the outdoors. The family tends to over 40 rare fruit trees, herbs and vegetables in their backyard; having discovered both the satisfaction of watching something grow and the thrill of harvesting what they planted.
Discover why Bernardus is known for the premier culinary events in Carmel Valley, and why its celebrated restaurant continues to earn top honors. Marinus is a favorite among food and wine lovers, repeatedly lauded by Wine Spectator and Zagat. Wickets features the flair of Bernardus dining in a casual, Euro bistro setting... indoors and out.
A romantic retreat nestled in the idyllic Carmel Valley, amongst sprawling oaks and sun-dappled vineyards. Scents of lavender, rosemary and lemongrass, sounds of bubbling fountains, and the warm breezes from the valley surround this hidden jewel. Steam and sauna rooms, a private outdoor tub and terra cotta walls reflecting the Warming Pool's shimmering blue images all lend to its award-winning, rustic charm. The Spa nurtures mind, body and spirit with luxurious treatments infused with pure and natural ingredients culled from the ocean, the vineyards and abundant, on-site organic gardens. So whether you seek to relax, renew or reconnect, The Spa at Bernardus Lodge offers an array of distinctive services from vinotherapy to marine-inspired treatments to international traditions, elevating relaxation to an art form.
The Bernardus estate vineyards of Marinus and Featherbow Ranch are located in the Cachagua region of the Carmel Valley. We have been told that Cachagua is the Spanish word Native Americans used for deep or hidden water. It has been said that Native Americans believed that all things in nature were sacred and interrelated. Their respect for balance in nature is carried on in the vineyards of Bernardus. More than 300 live oaks have been preserved to thrive among carefully planted vines.
Winemaker Dean DeKorthBernardus Winery
Of the 220 acres, 50 acres have been planted to vineyards of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, and Sauvignon Blanc. Bernardus ventures forth as the fifth winery to establish vineyards in this sacred valley. While growing Bordeaux-style varieties in our estate vineyards, at Bernardus we are committed to cultivating Chardonnay in cool coastal climates, specifically the Monterey County growing region. Grapes from other superior coastal appellations in California are used to add nuances to the Bernardus blend. The vineyard components are then complemented by many different yeasts and oaks during the winemaking procedure.
Winemaker Dean DeKorth integrates his experience working with the methods and practices of Bernardus winemaking with his own personal intuition and technical expertise. Dean DeKorth, an American, is a French winemaker—all of his early impressions about wine came from his education and apprenticeship in France. A very important part of Dean’s Burgundian training was focused on distinguishing aromas and flavor qualities, as well as textural elements in the wine. With this old-world sense of taste, Dean seeks to make wines that flatter the palate. A viticulturalist, enologist, scholar, craftsman, and artist, Dean DeKorth brings to his winemaking a time-honored knowledge of wine and an endless passion – a passion labeled Bernardus.
At Bernardus the textural element -"the mouth feel'- is the most important expression of wine.
At a time when there is an increasing conversion of established French wine estates from seasoned wooden tanks to rows of stainless steel, Bernardus Winery was constructed to create traditional wines. Wines are aged in oak tanks and barrels specially crafted for Bernardus in the French region of Bordeaux and Burgundy. Oak is purchased from many coopers in France to allow for blending of different flavors, or "the spice rack approach".
It is the goal of Ben Pon to create wines from the promising viticultural region of Carmel Valley that will rival in style and quality the finest traditional wines. With an unequaled commitment and the resources and talent to support this commitment, Bernardus is embarking upon the next frontier in American winemaking.