The afternoon waxes slowly into dusk as the moon drifts low in the sky and the smell of a wood fire wafts through the crisp, autumn air. Couples in Polo shirts and khaki shorts indulge in wine over leisurely games of bocce ball on a central courtyard lawn here at Bernardus Lodge & Spa in the heart of beautiful Carmel Valley.
These nearly 30 lush acres of vineyards, orchards and gardens provide a tranquil respite for urbanites temporarily fleeing the rat-races of Los Angeles and San Francisco. Millions of dollars spent remodeling last year has resulted in a polished gem of a dog-friendly resort, which makes the most of the valley’s warm climate. The pool is an attraction all day long, and all guests are allowed to make use of the spa’s amenities.
At dinner time, the olive tree-accommodating wooden patio of Lucia glimmers with the lights of crystal chandeliers as diners delight in the culinary magnificence of Chef Cal Stamenov’s seasonal menu, which is stocked with just-picked herbs and produce from the resort’s two-acres of bountiful organic and sustainable gardens and orchards.
Even some of the wine is grown right here on the property in Ingrid’s Vineyard, but the list — a Wine Spectator “Best of Award of Excellence” winner — of course includes labels from throughout this most bountiful producing county in the state, as well as international favorites. Bernardus Winery features a tasting room a short drive from here, where wines from Ingrid’s Marinus vineyard and the 36-acre Marinus Vineyard in the Santa Lucia Highlands AVA are showcased. Bernardus, in fact, operates more than 200 acres of vineyards in the Cachagua region of the upper Carmel Valley.
Whether you’re looking for a wine-soaked retreat during the holiday season, an unforgettable dinner or just a friendly game of bocce ball, Bernardus Lodge & Spa is just the place.
415 W. Carmel Valley Road
Carmel, California 93924
The winery is at Five W. Carmel Valley Road
More Carmel. Learn about Scott’s getaway at the dog friendly Cypress Inn.
Scott Bridges is an L.A.-based journalist who has worked as a police-beat reporter, a community newspaper editor, and a food and travel writer. He currently works as a freelance writer, contributing to The Huffington Post and Bizjournals.com, among other sites. He is a native Californian who lives on the Westside.