What is the history of Bernardus Winery?

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Maria Hunt

The history of Bernardus Winery begins with its interesting owner Ben Pon, whose full name is Bernardus Marinus Pon. A native of Holland, Pon is the scion of one of Holland’s prominent business families: His father, Ben Pon Sr., designed the Volkswagen Bus and imported the first VW Beetles to the United States. Before following his father’s footsteps, Pon started his career as a racecar driver for Porsche in Europe, racing in the Le Mans 24-hour competition six times. He also was a skilled skeet shooter, competing in the 1972 Olympics. Pon acquired the oldest wine distribution house in Holland and regularly visited Bordeaux, France, where he became fascinated with those wines. As he and his wife, Ingrid, searched for a place to make an approachable and world-class Bordeaux-style wine in California, they were drawn to the Carmel Valley, with its rustic beauty and cool climate. They opened Bernardus Winery in 1990; the first wine Bernardus released was a chardonnay, and the first vintage of the Marinus Bordeaux blend was created in 1993.

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