Ben Pon

Bernardus Marinus Pon

Ben Pon’s dream is to create a Carmel Valley red wine equal to the finest from Bordeaux. It is a dream based on the foundation of tradition. Born and raised in Amersfoort, Holland, Ben inherited a European appreciation of wine. Inspired, he collected wines for his cellars, and added fuel to the fire of his own passion for the best, with which he always returned to Carmel Valley.

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.

While visiting Carmel Valley in the early 1980's, Ben fell in love with the area, and soon after purchased a residence, and called Carmel Valley his second home. He believes in its potential to be the best viticultural appellation in America for traditional Bordeaux-style red wines and several other varietals. Ben’s passion for Carmel Valley has now extended beyond wine. With the same pioneer spirit that created Bernardus Winery and Vineyards, Ben went on to develop Bernardus Lodge in 1999, however he recently sold the lodge which still bears his name.

“Carmel Valley is one of the most beautiful places in the world,” says Ben, a man who divides his time between Amersfoort, Holland, and Carmel Valley, and travels year round as a citizen of the world.

Ben was a bon vivant in the Old World tradition with an enthusiastic perspective on 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 had a passion for racing cars and he won. He enjoyed skeet shooting and shot in the Olympics. Ben envisions making a Carmel Valley red wine equal to the finest from Bordeaux-Bernardus-taste a dream.