One of the most impressive weddings I have ever attended was at the Bernardus Lodge recently. Not only were the bride and groom an extremely handsome couple, but also they had planned each detail so carefully and thoroughly that the whole event was truly a fairytale affair.
The Bernadus Lodge is a gorgeous facility to hold a function, and well worth a visit. It’s a beautiful premier resort nestled on verdant acres in Carmel Valley—complete with luxurious spa, tennis courts, ballroom, function space and vineyard. The wines of Bernadus are now very famous, and I had tried them on occasion before when I had gone to the lodge for lunch, but this was an opportunity to try them again—especially as copious amounts were being poured at the reception and for the sit-down dinner. Over a repast of several courses, I loved the way wines were attentively poured, and the servers snapped to attention before setting every course down at the same time at each table.
I particularly enjoyed the Chardonnay 2009 Monterey County ($22)—a full and luscious beauty that delights the palate. Grapes for this wine were cultivated in cool, coastal climates, and complemented by many different yeasts and oaks during the winemaking procedure. The grapes are handpicked and then gently pressed to obtain the highest quality juice. Ripe tropical fruit, honeysuckle, apple and vanilla are the tempting aromas found when sticking your nose into the glass, and the palate of dense fruit flavors and crisp acidity all add up to make this a very worthwhile wine. Here’s a wine that is both serious and delicious. I certainly imbibed my fair share of this nectar throughout the course of an afternoon until nearly midnight when the wedding festivities were still going strong.
Winery owner Benardus (Ben) Pon appreciates wine as an art. It is his goal “to create wines from the promising viticulture of Carmel Valley that will rival in style and quality the finest traditional wines.” Ben Pon (a Dutchman) is not only a successful entrepreneur but also a visionary—having created a winery and lodge unparalleled in the Monterey Bay. Interestingly, he is also an accomplished sportsman. He competed in the 1972 Olympics in skeet shooting and was a race car driver for Porsche. Together with winemaker Dean De Korth, Pon is creating some truly fabulous red and white wines at Bernadus Winery. As the phrase on a bottle of red says, “Taste A Dream.”
Bernadus Winery, 5 West Carmel Valley Road, Carmel Valley, (831) 298-8021. Toll free: 800-223-2533. The tasting room is open daily from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. There is a $7:50 tasting fee which is refundable with a purchase of $75 or more.