Our Story


“We have a river. We have a chateau. We have the land. We have no vineyard. Every French chateau has a vineyard.” – William A.V. Cecil


Old piece of paper with writing on it

Early 1900s

Wine takes root at Biltmore.

George Vanderbilt’s love of collecting extends to filling his wine cellar.


Early 1970s

William Cecil plants his first vines at Biltmore.

George Vanderbilt’s grandson, William Cecil, envisions the idea of an estate winery that honors the agricultural heritage of his grandfather’s estate. Despite a variety of obstacles, he plants French-American hybrid vines below Biltmore House, and his inaugural vintage is bottled in the Conservatory basement.


Late 1970s

Philippe Jourdain becomes Biltmore's first Winemaster.

The vineyards are moved to their current location on the west side of the estate. About 150 acres are planted with vinifera grapes. William Cecil travels to France and hires Philippe Jourdain, a sixth-generation winemaster whose expertise and skills, including his suggestion to plant additional vinifera varietals, are integral in building the future of Biltmore’s Winery.


1983

The Biltmore Estate Wine Company is established.

The Biltmore Estate Wine Company is formally incorporated, helping to realize George Vanderbilt’s original vision of “a self-sustaining entity that thrives on the bounty of the land.” Bill Cecil, son of William Cecil and great-grandson of George Vanderbilt, assumes a leadership role in overseeing the conversion of the original dairy into the new Winery.

Mr. Vanderbilt talking to a construction worker about the winery

1985

Biltmore Winery opens to the public.

Mr. Cecil calls it “the most historic event since my grandfather had opened his estate to his family on Christmas Day ninety years earlier.”


1986

Bernard Delille joins Biltmore.

Bernard Delille, a native of France with a master’s degree in biochemistry, joins Biltmore as assistant winemaker. Meet Bernard

Bernard Delille standing around barrels

1995

Bernard Delille becomes Winemaster.

Philippe retires, and Bernard is promoted to Winemaster and Vice President of the Winery.


1999

Sharon Fenchak joins Biltmore.

She has a master’s degree in food science and fell in love with winemaking while living in Vicenza, Italy. Meet Sharon

Sharon Fenchak in front of wine barrels

wine bottles in the bottling plant

2001

Sales continue to grow.

Biltmore Estate Wine Company sells one million bottles of wine annually.


2003

Sharon is promoted to winemaker.

Her research in grape-growing technology and wine production methods is a natural complement to Bernard’s traditional and artistic perspective.


2005

Retail distribution expands.

Biltmore Estate Wine Company expands distribution to 10 states.


2010

Biltmore commemorates milestones and new additions.

Biltmore Winery celebrates its 25th anniversary. Antler Hill Village opens to the public.

Antler Hill Village at sunset

Today

Biltmore Winery is the most visited winery in the country.

Our wines have been honored with countless awards and medals, and are now available in 30 states.