Celebrate with Sensational Sangria Recipes

Celebrate the warmer months with these sensational sangria recipes featuring your favorite Biltmore wines! Whether you’re a fan of reds, whites, or rosés, there’s a perfect option in the following recipes to help you create fun and fruity sangrias for solo sipping and friendly gatherings all season long.

Purchase our award-winning wines in estate shops or find a Biltmore wine retailer close to you.

White Wine Sangria

Bottle of Biltmore Estate Sauvignon Blanc and glasses of sangria with fruit garnish.
Biltmore Estate Sauvignon Blanc is the star of this refreshing white sangria dreamed up by Marley Goldin / @marleysmenu following a complimentary wine tasting at Biltmore Winery. (Photo courtesy of @marleysmenu.)

Sip on this delightful Sauvignon Blanc-based sangria recipe, created for Biltmore by Marley Goldin of @marleysmenu.


  • 2 lemons, washed and sliced in wheels
  • 2 limes, washed and sliced in wheels
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup triple sec
  • 1 bottle of Biltmore Estate® Sauvignon Blanc (or your favorite Biltmore white wine)
  • 1 ½ cups strawberries, washed, tops removed, halved
  • 2 cups club soda
  • Ice


  • Into a large pitcher, add the lemon and lime slices and granulated sugar. Muddle for 30 seconds until the sugar combines with the citrus juices.
  • Add the triple sec, then stir to combine.
  • Add the Biltmore Estate® Sauvignon Blanc and sliced strawberries to the pitcher and stir again.
  • Just before serving, add ice and club soda. Serves 8.
  • Tip: This recipe can be made up to 24 ahead of time! The longer the fruit sits in the liquid, the more its flavor infuses. Hold off on adding the club soda and ice until just before serving.

Masterpiece Sangria

Four bottles of Biltmore Masterpiece Collection wine with orchid labels
Biltmore Masterpiece Collection White and Rose Wines

Although traditional sangria recipes tend to feature red wines, this version with our Biltmore Masterpiece Collection White or Rosé Wines is a cool, refreshing treat for warm weather. Enjoy with friends and, should you have any leftover (we doubt you will!), freeze it for a fun take on grown-up popsicles or slushies.


  • 1 bottle Biltmore® Masterpiece Collection White Wine or Rosé Wine
  • 4 ounces simple syrup
  • 4 ounces brandy
  • 2 ounces of freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 2 ounces of freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 2 ounces of freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 limes, sliced in wheels
  • 1 lemon, sliced in wheels then halved
  • 1 Fuji apple, cubed
  • 1 Anjou pear, cubed
  • 1 mango, cubed
  • Seeds from ½ pomegranate (optional)


  • Combine all ingredients in a large pitcher and stir until well mixed, adding pomegranate seeds at the end for presentation as they tend to fall to the bottom after stirring.
  • Serve over ice. If sangria sits overnight, add simple syrup to taste as additional juices will come forward the next day. 
  • Serves 4-6.

Cardinal’s Crest Red Sangria

Biltmore Estate Cardinal's Crest wine with a pitcher of sangria
Biltmore Estate® Cardinal’s Crest wine is perfect for sipping, savoring, and sangria!

Take time for yourself with a glass of Cardinal’s Crest Red Sangria—the perfect sparkling treat for a leisurely Sunday morning brunch or a long afternoon on the porch.


  • 3 ounces Biltmore Estate® Cardinal’s Crest
  • ½ ounce Orange Curacao
  • ½ ounce St. Remy Brandy
  • ¾ ounce orange juice
  • ¼ ounce grapefruit juice
  • ½ ounce simple syrup
  • 1 ounce Biltmore Estate® Brut sparkling wine
  • Lime wedge and an orange wedge (optional garnish)


  • Add the first 6 ingredients to a small pitcher or shaker; mix until combined.
  • Pour over ice in a wine glass and top with 1 ounce sparkling wine and garnish with lime and orange wedges.
  • Serves 1, but can be easily multiplied for sharing.

Exotic Orchids Bloom on This Wine Label

Discover how the exotic orchids that “bloom” on the labels of our latest Biltmore Masterpiece Collection Wines are entwined with our history.

Orchids at Biltmore

Orchids in bloom inside Biltmore's Conservatory
Glorious blooms in the Orchid Room inside the Conservatory at Biltmore.

Each release in our Masterpiece Collection is specially created to honor George Vanderbilt’s legacy as a collector of extraordinary treasures and exceptional vintages.

“We chose orchids for the labels of our latest Biltmore Masterpiece Collection Wines because George Vanderbilt enjoyed them,” said Sharon Fenchak, Executive Winemaker. “I love orchids, too, and appreciate sharing that connection with Mr. Vanderbilt.”

Local artist creates the labels

Artist Bryan Koontz of Weaverville, NC, spent time in the Orchid Room in the Conservatory, studying the beautiful blooms–some of which are the same varieties that landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted originally ordered for Biltmore.

Series of nine colored pencil sketches of orchids.
Bryan Koontz created this series of sketches, eventually narrowing the field down to four specific blooms.

After sketching many different orchids, the field was narrowed to four different varieties. Bryan then painted original watercolors of each bloom to create a series of four labels that capture each of the different orchids with all their glorious details.

Watercolor painting of an orchid in progress
Bryan created original watercolor paintings featuring four different orchids for the Biltmore Masterpiece Collection White and Rosé Wines.

Wine tasting notes and pairing suggestions

Four bottles of Biltmore Masterpiece Collection White and Rosé Wines with glasses and fruit.
Savor our Biltmore Masterpiece Collection White and Rosé Wines separately, or collect the entire “bouquet” with four beautiful orchid labels!

For this Masterpiece Collection release, Sharon handcrafted two different wines: a crisp, smooth, and refreshing white blend and a fragrant, fresh, and delicious rosé.

  • Masterpiece Collection White Wine is light-to-medium-bodied and features a soft floral aroma with hints of spice and citrus followed by flavors of white peach and clementine. With nicely balanced acidity and sweetness, it pairs perfectly with quiche, pasta Alfredo, Italian wedding soup, and delicate spring vegetables.
  • Masterpiece Collection Rosé Wine is light-to-medium-bodied and opens with delicate vanilla and floral aromas that give way to juicy flavors of strawberry and rock candy, plus bright acidity. Sip this well-balanced wine as an aperitif before serving with charcuterie, shellfish, olives, crudités, or a classic bagna cauda dipping sauce for fresh vegetables.

Both Masterpiece Collection wines are perfect for brunch, light luncheons, and spring celebrations. Enjoy them separately or collect a beautiful “bouquet” featuring all four orchid varieties!

Discover all of our wines, including the Masterpiece Collection

Bottles of Biltmore Masterpiece Collection White and Rose Wines
Enjoy our Biltmore Masterpiece Collection White and Rosé Wines at your next brunch or luncheon!

Find all of our wines, including Biltmore Masterpiece Collection White and Rosé Wines, in estate shops or through your local retailer. These limited release wines are available while supplies last.

Glorious Glass at Biltmore

With Chihuly at Biltmore—an exhibition featuring an all-new curation of artist Dale Chihuly’s work— now on display, we wanted to share some other types of glorious glass at the estate.

From decorative art glass to functional glassware and more, here are some interesting details about different pieces in Biltmore’s collection:

Intriguing green glass

Uranium glass under normal light and glowing under UV light
Known as uranium glass, this set has a green tint under normal lighting conditions, but becomes a bright glowing green when shown under ultraviolet light.

“While cleaning and photographing the china and crystal in the Butler’s Pantry, we came across an interesting set of glassware,” said Genevieve Bieniosek, Furniture Conservator. “We don’t have records that show when it was acquired, but it turned out to be uranium glass.”

Under regular lighting, uranium glass is a pale, transparent green or greenish-yellow, but when exposed to ultraviolet energy, the pieces fluoresce bright green.  

“Manufacturers added uranium oxide to glass to produce a range of colors from pale greenish-yellow to bright green,” Genevieve said. “It has been used as a glass colorant since at least the 1830s, although its use was discontinued for a 15-year period beginning with WWII when uranium became more regulated.”   

The LaFarge stained glass windows

Stained glass windows by John La Farge
Hospitalitas/Prosperitas (Hospitality/Prosperity), part of the Fruits of Prosperity series of stained glass windows created by John LaFarge, are now displayed in Biltmore’s Winery.

From 1880–1882, George Vanderbilt’s father, William H. Vanderbilt, built a grand house known as the Triple Palace on New York’s newly fashionable Fifth Avenue. Mr. Vanderbilt commissioned artist and interior designer John La Farge to create three stained glass windows for the central stairwell of his new home.

The Fruits of Commerce, Hospitalitas/Prosperitas, and The Golden Apples of Hesperides feature different themes and are considered to be among La Farge’s finest work. The windows showcase his experimental techniques, which influenced the work of another famous stained-glass artist: Louis Comfort Tiffany.

George Vanderbilt inherited the home after his parents’ deaths and the La Farge windows were eventually moved to Biltmore and placed in storage. The three-panel window entitled Hospitalis/Prosperitas is now displayed at Biltmore Winery.

An unusual vase

Glass vase by Louis Comfort Tiffany
Glass vase by Louis Comfort Tiffany

The Claude Room, one of the elegant Louis XV Suite of guest bedrooms in Biltmore House, features another unusual piece of glass—a vase created by Louis Comfort Tiffany in 1890. The hand-blown vase features layers of glass in different colors, with a gold metallic surface and woven sterling silver overlay.

Though the style is markedly different from Tiffany’s iconic stained glass lamps, it demonstrates his mastery of glassmaking techniques. 

The Glassblower

The Glassblower, a bronze sculpture by Constantin Meunier
Le Souffleur de Verre (The Glassblower), Constantin Meunier, 1889

In 1913, George and Edith Vanderbilt purchased eight bronze works from an exhibition of Constantin Meunier’s work, including Le Souffleur de Verre (The Glassblower). While this sculpture is not made of glass, it faithfully captures the physical details of a glassblower at work, creating an interesting connection with the actual glass pieces.

Iris Gold and Garnet Chandelier

Iris Gold and Garnet Chandelier by Dale Chihuly at Biltmore's Winery
Chandelier in Winery. Dale Chihuly, “Iris Gold and Garnet Chandelier,” 2022 9 1/2 x 6 x 6′ Biltmore Winery, Asheville, North Carolina, Installed 2023 © 2022 Chihuly Studio. All rights reserved.

Following the successful Chihuly at Biltmore exhibition in 2018 that featured Dale Chihuly’s work in our historic gardens, Biltmore commissioned a custom Chandelier by the artist. With colors inspired by the hues of our handcrafted wines, Iris Gold and Garnet Chandelier was installed at the Winery in 2023 as part of Biltmore’s private collection.

“During his lifetime, George Vanderbilt collected a variety of fine art, including works by both Louis Comfort Tiffany and John La Farge. In their time, they helped revolutionize glass and glass art, much in the same way that Dale Chihuly has done in the last several decades. Chihuly’s transforming of traditional forms of glass and his large intricate public art installations has elevated glass art to a much higher form today, said Darren Poupore, Biltmore’s Chief Curator.

Discover more glorious glass at Biltmore!

Plan your visit to Biltmore to enjoy the wonders of Chihuly at Biltmore, now on display. Hosted in the galleries of Amherst at Deerpark®, this all-new experience includes pedestal works, Drawings, and large-scale installations of Chandeliers, Towers, Mille Fiori, and Neon.

Presenting the Artist: Dale Chihuly

“Glass is the most magical of all materials. It transmits light in a special way.” – Dale Chihuly

Dale Chihuly Persian Ceiling (detail), 2012 25 x 15' Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto, installed 2016

Dale Chihuly is an American artist known for revolutionizing the Studio Glass movement and elevating the medium of glass from the realm of craft to fine art.

With Chihuly at Biltmore now on display, we invite you to learn more about the artist and his impact around the world.

About the Artist

Dale Chihuly with Laguna Torcello II Biltmore, Asheville, North Carolina, 2018
Dale Chihuly, 2017 © 2017 Chihuly Studio. All rights reserved.

Born in 1941 in Tacoma, Washington, Dale Chihuly discovered his passion for glass during his interior design studies at the University of Washington. After graduating in 1965, he joined the first glass art program in the United States at the University of Wisconsin.

He later continued his studies and established the glass program at the prestigious Rhode Island School of Design, where in 1968, he earned an MFA and a Fulbright Fellowship that enabled him to study and work at the prestigious Venini glass factory in Venice.

His pivotal experience there influenced the team glassblowing approach that he later emphasized an educator and employed in his own practice. Upon returning to the US in 1968, he became head of RISD’s glass program and co-founded the Pilchuck Glass School in Washington, contributing significantly to the development of glass as fine art.

While mentoring other young artists, Chihuly relentlessly pursued his own creative vision, developing a body of work that is featured today in over 200 museums worldwide, and earning numerous awards, including two National Endowment for the Arts fellowships and thirteen honorary doctorates.

Exhibitions Around the World

Dale Chihuly, Mille Fiori (detail), 2018 © 2018 Chihuly Studio. All rights reserved.
Dale Chihuly, Mille Fiori (detail), 2018 © 2018 Chihuly Studio. All rights reserved.

Chihuly has created more than a dozen well-known series of works, among them, Cylinders and Baskets in the 1970s; Seaforms, Macchia, Persians, and Venetians in the 1980s; Niijima Floats and Chandeliers in the 1990s; and Fiori in the 2000s. He is also celebrated for large architectural installations.

In 1986, he was honored with a solo exhibition, Dale Chihuly objets de verre, at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Palais du Louvre, in Paris. In 1995, he began Chihuly Over Venice, for which he created sculptures at glass-making facilities in Finland, Ireland, and Mexico, and then installed them over the canals and piazzas of Venice.

In 1999, Chihuly mounted perhaps his most ambitious exhibition to that date, Chihuly in the Light of Jerusalem; where more than 1 million visitors attended the Tower of David Museum to view his installations. In 2001, the Victoria and Albert Museum in London presented the exhibition Chihuly at the V&A.

Exhibitions in Botanical Settings

Dale Chihuly, Ethereal White Persian Pond, 2018, Gardens by the Bay, Singapore, installed 2021 © 2018 Chihuly Studio. All rights reserved.
Dale Chihuly, Ethereal White Persian Pond, 2018, Gardens by the Bay, Singapore, installed 2021 © 2018 Chihuly Studio. All rights reserved.

Chihuly’s lifelong fascination for glasshouses has grown into a series of exhibitions within botanical settings. The Garden Cycle began in 2001 at the Garfield Park Conservatory in Chicago, and continued at several locations, among them London’s Royal Botanic Gardens, at Kew in 2005 and 2019; the New York Botanical Garden in 2006 and 2017; and Singapore’s Gardens by the Bay in 2021.

Meanwhile, Chihuly continued to present ambitious exhibitions at museums, including the de Young Museum in San Francisco, in 2008; the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, in 2011; the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond, in 2012; the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, in 2013; the Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto, in 2016; the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, Arkansas, in 2017; and the Groninger Museum in the Netherlands in 2018. In 2012, Chihuly Garden and Glass, the artist’s long-term exhibition, opened at Seattle Center.

In 2018, Biltmore welcomed Chihuly at Biltmore, an exhibition showcasing the artist’s breathtaking large-scale glass sculptures in the century-old gardens of America’s Largest Home®. This unique visual experience marked the first art exhibition in Biltmore’s historic gardens and the first garden exhibition of artist Dale Chihuly’s works in North Carolina.

Experience an All-New Chihuly at Biltmore

Dale Chihuly, Sapphire Neon with Burned Logs and Neodymium Reeds (detail), 2015, 8 x 21 x 15' © 2015 Chihuly Studio. All rights reserved.
Dale Chihuly, Sapphire Neon with Burned Logs and Neodymium Reeds (detail), 2015, 8 x 21 x 15′ © 2015 Chihuly Studio. All rights reserved.

The success of the 2018 exhibition paved the way for an all-new Chihuly at Biltmore exhibition, presented in Amherst at Deerpark®.

“Amherst offers an ideal setting for you to not only view the installations, but learn about Dale Chihuly’s life, work, and his powerful influence on art, as well as Biltmore’s own connection to glass art,” said Travis Tatham, Biltmore’s Director of Entertainment and Event Programming.

In addition to the awe-inspiring gallery exhibition featuring specially curated pedestal works, Drawings, Chandeliers, Towers, Mille Fiori, and Neon, guests have the opportunity to marvel at two large-scale installations presented on estate grounds: one on the East Terrace in front of Biltmore House and one at the Entry Green in Antler Hill Village.

Iris Gold and Garnet Chandelier by Dale Chihuly at Biltmore's Winery
Chandelier in Winery. Dale Chihuly, “Iris Gold and Garnet Chandelier,” 2022 9 1/2 x 6 x 6′ Biltmore Winery, Asheville, North Carolina, Installed 2023 © 2022 Chihuly Studio. All rights reserved.

While in the Village, be sure to admire Chihuly Iris Gold and Garnet Chandelier at the Winery. Installed in 2023, it was commissioned especially for Biltmore and is part of the estate’s permanent glorious glass collection.

From the grand interiors of America’s Largest Home® and surrounding artistic landscapes to the awe-inspiring displays in the galleries of Amherst, we can’t wait to welcome you to Chihuly at Biltmore.

Reserve your admission tickets and special admission-inclusive overnight packages for this must-see exhibition.

Featured image
Dale Chihuly with Laguna Torcello II
Biltmore, Asheville, North Carolina, 2018

Sylvester Owens: Biltmore’s “Azalea King”

A significant and often overlooked employee in Biltmore’s past is Sylvester Owens: chauffeur, “Azalea Hunter,” and head gardener trained by Biltmore’s nursery manager and later estate superintendent Chauncey Beadle. It is because of Owens’ passion and expertise that Beadle’s vision for the Azalea Garden was completed, creating the stunning landscape that we know and enjoy today.

Learn about this important figure in Biltmore’s history and his lasting contributions to our renowned garden landscapes.

Sylvester Owens. Photo courtesy of Eugenia (Gena) McCleary.
Sylvester Owens. Photo courtesy of Eugenia (Gena) McCleary.

Sylvester Owens at Biltmore

Owens was born in Rutherford County, NC, in 1897. He received little formal education during his youth and began helping on his family farm at a young age. By his early 20s, he had been married and widowed with two young children, at which time he moved to Asheville to live with his uncle, Jim Owens.

He began his employment at Biltmore as a chauffeur and companion to Chauncey Beadle in 1920. His brother Frank was also employed on the estate, performing maintenance and supplying firewood to Biltmore House.

Sylvester Owens tagging an azalea at Biltmore, photographed by Elliot Lyman Fisher for Ebony magazine, August 1951.
Sylvester Owens tagging an azalea at Biltmore, photographed by Elliot Lyman Fisher for Ebony magazine, August 1951.

The Azalea Hunters

Under Beadle’s mentorship, Sylvester Owens progressed to become an assistant gardener and one of the so-called “Azalea Hunters,” traveling around the Southeast with Beadle and several others collecting unique specimens of azalea plants.

According to a 1997 oral history conducted with Owens’ daughter Mabel Owens Hoskins and widow Franklyn Owens, he grew to have a genuine friendship with Chauncey Beadle. When traveling together to gather azaleas, Beadle would not stay or eat at any place that would not also accommodate Owens due to his race.

Excerpt from a newspaper supplement produced by Biltmore featuring Sylvester Owens, April 14, 1968.
Excerpt from a newspaper supplement produced by Biltmore featuring Sylvester Owens, April 14, 1968.

When Chauncey Beadle died in 1950, Judge Junius Adams, president of The Biltmore Company, asked Sylvester Owens to take over Beadle’s work. Judge Adams stated upon his appointment that “His interest in the garden is sincere. He knows more about the plants, their origins, and their characteristics than anyone around and he is thoroughly familiar with Mr. Beadle’s plan.” Owens’ daughter Mabel later said that:

“I believe that he was able to handle Mr. Beadle’s death better because he was able to complete something that they had started together. Otherwise, he probably would have not felt as good about the ending of their relationship because they were very close. As I said, he was not only his chauffeur, but he was his companion too and they were more like friends…the respect that the Beadles had for my father and his family was encouraging, and the kind of thing that makes for a better person.”

Sylvester Owens photographed by Elliot Lyman Fisher for Ebony magazine, August 1951.
Sylvester Owens photographed by Elliot Lyman Fisher for Ebony magazine, August 1951.

Azalea King

Owens was recognized for his work in several newspaper articles as well as in Ebony magazine in 1951 with an article titled “Azalea King.” According to the article, Owens was considered “one of the greatest authorities on azalea culture today.”

An article in The Charlotte Observer from July 1950 quotes Owens’ response to his appointment to carry on Beadle’s work: “I plan to make this spot the most beautiful garden in the world…Like Mr. Beadle, I love the plants—all of them—and I can picture the whole valley in bloom when the work is completed. Mr. Beadle was the finest, kindest man I ever knew. I was surprised and happy to be the one to carry on.”

Sylvester Owens and William Cecil with a truck in front of Biltmore House
Sylvester Owens with William A.V. Cecil in front of Biltmore House, photographed by Toni Frissell in May 1964. In the collection of the Library of Congress.

Sylvester Owens’ Legacy

Today, the Azalea Garden spans around 15 acres, but Owens’ purview extended beyond its current boundaries. He eventually oversaw many of the landscaping crews on the estate. He would travel with them to exhibit their work in Charlotte, and in 1961 they won the President’s Award from the Southeastern Rhododendron Show, which was a great point of pride for Owens, according to his family.

Sylvester Owens retired in 1964 after almost 44 years of service to the estate and after completing Beadle’s plans for the gardens at Biltmore. Owens lived in the Shiloh community until his death in 1989, and some of his descendants remain in the area. He is buried at the Shiloh AME Zion Church Cemetery, and his legacy lives on today through the beauty of Biltmore’s gardens.

Azaleas in bloom at Biltmore
The Azalea Garden offers a spectacular variety of colors each spring.

The Lasting Beauty of Biltmore’s Azalea Garden

Beautiful any time of year, the Azalea Garden at Biltmore puts on a spectacular show each spring and is a testament to the lasting impact of this important figure in Biltmore’s history. From the hearty flame azalea native to the Blue Ridge Mountains to some of the most rare varieties in the world, thousands of vivid blooms provide a kaleidoscope of color for you to enjoy when you visit Biltmore Estate.

Special thanks to Explore Asheville and the Black Cultural Heritage Trail for collaborating with Biltmore to share these stories throughout historically Black neighborhoods in Asheville.

Preservation Takes Root in Biltmore’s Italian Garden

At Biltmore Estate in Asheville, NC, historic preservation projects come in many forms, encompassing far more than just the exterior of Biltmore House and the priceless collections of art and furnishings that fill America’s Largest Home®.

The grand gardens and grounds, designed by landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted, are preserved as carefully as any other aspect of George Vanderbilt’s 8,000-acre estate.

A new preservation project takes root

“In November 2023, we began removing the Hemlock hedge that bordered the Italian Garden for more than 50 years, replacing it with an American Holly hedge that is true to Olmsted’s vision for the area,” said Bill Quade, Director of Horticulture.

View of the holly hedge in front of the Conservatory at Biltmore that is part of our preservation project
The American Holly hedge at the top of the steps between the Rose Garden and the Conservatory yielded 350 cuttings for the Italian Garden preservation project.

This preservation project started in 2018 ago with cuttings taken from an original American Holly hedge located between the Historic Rose Garden and Butterfly Garden in front of the Conservatory. The cuttings—a mix of 350 male and female plants—were grown in containers at a regional nursery until they reached an appropriate age and size for transplanting.

Taking preservation to new heights

View of the Italian Garden near Biltmore House
Added during the 1960s, the high Hemlock hedge blocked the view from the Italian Garden into the areas below it.

“The hedge has dropped from a height of approximately 10 feet down to about 4.5 feet that we’ll maintain as the holly continues to mature,” Bill said. “That creates quite a drastic visual change for the area, allowing a much more open view down into Shrub Garden toward the Conservatory.”

Archival Biltmore photo of a pond in a garden with planters beside it
This archival photo taken August 23, 1895, shows the urns placed at regular intervals along the newly planted American Holly hedge that bordered the Italian Garden until it was removed in the 1960s.

In addition, replicas of the 16 large urns that are visible in early photos of the Italian Garden have been reproduced by the same company that re-created the urns in front of Biltmore House. Filled with leafy evergreen plantings, the urns have been added at intervals throughout the hedge.

Installation and completion

Green holly leaves and red berries
As the hedge grows in and matures, the mix of male and female American Holly plantings should provide evergreen leaves throughout the year along with bright seasonal berries.

“We don’t know why the American Holly hedge surrounding the Italian Garden was removed in the 1960s,” said Bill, “but with this preservation project, we’ll be using modern knowledge and techniques to adapt the original plan slightly to help the new hedge thrive and give the evergreen plantings in the urns the ability to survive year-round.”

“I believe this might be the most dramatic landscape preservation project since the replacement of the tulip poplars in front of Biltmore House in 2005,” Bill added.

View of the Italian Garden hemlock hedge and mountains at Biltmore
The Italian Garden Hemlock hedge as it appeared before being replaced with the American Holly hedge from Olmsted’s original design intent for Biltmore’s landscape plan.

A first-look for Biltmore Annual Passholders

This information was originally shared with Biltmore’s Annual Passholders in the Fall/Holiday 2023 issue of Ambassador, our exclusive Passholder magazine. If you’re interested in getting insider access and exclusive benefits—like unlimited daytime visits for a full year!—check out our Passholder page.

Biltmore’s History of Giving Back During the Holidays

Christmas has always been a special time at Biltmore, from George Vanderbilt’s opening of Biltmore House on Christmas Eve 1895 to the Christmas at Biltmore celebrations of today. The holidays at Biltmore have also been a time of intentionally giving back to the community.

Although George and Edith Vanderbilt made philanthropic contributions year-round, Christmas provided an opportunity to connect with the residents of Asheville and Western North Carolina to share in the spirit of the season.

Learn more about this tradition of giving back during the holidays.

Giving back through healthcare

Archival photograph of George Vanderbilt and his cousins traveling in Europe in the late 1800s
George Vanderbilt (standing, right) traveling in Spain with his cousin Clarence Barker (seated, left), niece Maria Louisa Schieffelin (seated, right), and her husband William Jay Schieffelin (standing, left), 1891. The Vanderbilts created Clarence Barker Memorial Hospital in Asheville, NC, in honor of Barker who passed away at Biltmore in 1896.

A particular priority for the Vanderbilts was making high-quality medical care more accessible to the community. George, Edith, and Cornelia Vanderbilt financially supported area hospitals including the Clarence Barker Memorial Hospital (later the Biltmore Hospital), which they founded in Biltmore Village to provide care to residents of the estate and the area.

During the holidays, however, the Vanderbilts contributed a little extra to extend cheer to the staff and patients. Beginning as early as 1903, Edith Vanderbilt ensured patients in the wards of the Clarence Barker Memorial Hospital, Mission Hospital, and General Hospital No. 19 at Oteen had a festive supply of estate-grown holly, mistletoe, wreaths, and Christmas trees. One House Mother at General Hospital No. 19 assured Edith that her annual donations “provide Christmas Cheer for the patients in this hospital.”[1]

Faith and philanthropy

All Souls Church in Biltmore Village, ca. 1906
Archival photograph of All Souls Church in Biltmore Village, ca. 1906.

Christmas also provided an opportunity for the Vanderbilts to grow closer to their faith community at All Souls’ Church in Biltmore Village. From the earliest days of All Souls’, George Vanderbilt not only attended services but found ways to include members of the church in his Christmas celebrations.

In 1896, for example, George Vanderbilt hosted members of the choir and administration of All Souls’ at a Christmas Day tea held at Biltmore House. The Asheville Citizen-Times remarked George “entertained his guests in a manner that made the evening a memorable one. After tea, the guests were shown over Biltmore House and made to feel thoroughly at home.”[2] George and Edith hosted the choir each year they were at Biltmore for Christmas until 1913.

Giving back through employee Christmas parties

Archival invitation to the 1909 Biltmore Estate employee Christmas party
Invitation to the 1909 Biltmore employee Christmas party.

A new tradition began in 1897 when All Souls’ Church was selected as the location for Biltmore’s employee Christmas party. Festive décor included a large star made of holly and pine hanging from the center of the chancel arch along with live pine trees growing in boxes in each corner of the building.

A 25-foot spruce replaced the choir stalls, “beautifully dressed with gleaming ornaments and lights and gifts, and from its topmost branch was suspended a large figure of an angel which seemed to waft a benediction upon the assembly and the ceremonies of the night.”[3] While the décor was not quite so elaborate in subsequent years, the 1902 decorations included a star made up of 200 incandescent lightbulbs in what must have been a dazzling display accompanying Christmas services.[4]

Western Union telegraph message from Edith Vanderbilt Gerry to everyone at Biltmore Estate for Christmas 19XX
Western Union “Holiday Greetings” telegram message from Edith Vanderbilt Gerry to everyone at Biltmore Estate.

Even after George Vanderbilt’s passing and Edith’s eventual marriage to Senator Peter Gerry of Rhode Island in 1925, she continued the tradition of giving back by coordinating Christmas donations from afar while her daughter Cornelia and husband John Cecil actively supported local hospitals.

Making Christmas bright for children

Archival photograph of a decorated Christmas tree at the Biltmore Parish Day School in 1897
Archival photograph of Christmas decorations at the Biltmore Parish Day School, ca. 1899.

Also bringing cheer to the children of Biltmore Village was the Biltmore Parish Day School, run by All Souls’ Church in the Parish School building beginning in 1898. With their focus on creating memorable Christmases for their employees, it is no surprise that George and Edith also supported the Parish Day School’s holiday celebrations.

The All Souls’ Yearbook for 1899 reveals separate parties were held for older and younger children, both involving Christmas trees, gifts, and refreshments. An 1899 All Souls’ Yearbook notes the importance of this party: “As it was the only Christmas some had, we endeavored to make it as bright as possible… some of them had never seen a lighted tree before, it was a genuine delight to them.”[5]

George and Edith established the operating fund with which the school funded its yearly Christmas celebrations, as well as provided scholarships to students who could not cover the $10 annual tuition.

A Vanderbilt tradition of giving back

Two girls looking up at Christmas lights
Starting on the very first Christmas morning in 1895, the annual Biltmore Employee Christmas party has been a special annual tradition for employees and their families that continues today.

The Vanderbilts firmly believed in giving back as their responsibility to the communities in which they lived, a belief that became especially clear during the holidays. At Christmastime, the Vanderbilts gave in personal ways, ensuring that those without access to Vanderbilt resources still experienced a happy Christmas.

The philanthropic efforts of the Vanderbilt family were not only directed toward their neighbors and children within the community but also extended beyond the boundaries of Biltmore Estate. Their involvement created a foundation that has guided the philanthropic efforts of their descendants throughout generations, both during the holidays and beyond.

[1] Letter held in the Biltmore House Archives, 1919.

[2] Asheville Citizen-Times, December 26, 1896; p. 1.

[3] Asheville Citizen-Times, December 27, 1897; p. 2.

[4] Asheville Citizen-Times, December 26, 1902; p. 5.

[5] All Souls’ Church Yearbook, 1899.

Halloween How-to: Pairing Biltmore Wine with Candy

Take spooky-season fun to the next level with our special Halloween how-to on pairing Biltmore wine with classic candy at home.

“There’s nothing scary about enjoying Biltmore wines with your favorite sweets,” said Shruthi Dhoopati, Assistant Winemaker.

“The same principles that apply to successful food-and-wine pairings also work with candy,” Shruthi said. “For desserts, you’d normally choose a wine that’s sweeter than the dish you’re serving, but this Halloween how-to focuses on pairings that add a little sophistication and a lot of fun to the mix.”

To make it even easier to enjoy Biltmore wines with Halloween treats, consider the following classic wine-and-candy pairings detailed below.

Complement candy corn

Halloween How-to: Pairing Biltmore wine with candy corn
Biltmore Estate® Limited Release Dry Riesling pairs perfectly with tri-colored candy corn

For those who love the seasonal stripes and sugary sweetness of old-fashioned candy corn, it’s twice as nice with a glass of Biltmore Estate® Limited Release Dry Riesling.

“Our Dry Riesling opens with scents of bright citrus and hints of spice that that make you think of fall,” Shruthi said, “while the taste recalls sun-warmed plums, nectarines, and other stone fruits. The wine’s flavor and dryer style provide a pleasant balance for the pure sweetness and soft, waxy texture of candy corn.”

Peanut butter perfection

Halloween How-to: Pairing Biltmore wine with peanut butter cups
For a special Halloween treat, savor smooth, creamy peanut butter cups with our approachable Biltmore Estate® Chardonnay

If your Halloween traditions include snagging all the chocolate-covered peanut butter cups out of the treat bags to savor later, we suggest you consider complementing the dynamic duo with our approachable Biltmore Estate® Chardonnay.

“This is a pairing that surprises people,” Shruthi admits, “because you don’t normally pair peanut butter with wine. But if you think about it, what’s more perfect with peanut butter than grape jelly, which gives you a point of reference.”

According to Shruthi, our Chardonnay works well because it’s a delightfully smooth wine with fruit flavors and hints of oak that enhance most food flavors. It’s also crisp and offers good acidity to balance the higher fat content and rich mouthfeel of peanut butter.

Savor the dark side

Biltmore Estate Limited Release Mourvedre with peppermint patty candies
Savor the dark side by pairing Biltmore Estate® Limited Release Mourvédre with peppermint patties

While chocolate is frequently served with red wine, the combination of dark chocolate and a strong mint filling makes pairing classic peppermint patties a bit of a challenge, but Shruthi says it’s okay to savor the dark side with our Biltmore Estate® Limited Release Mourvédre.

“This wine offers wonderful aromas of black cherry, vanilla, and soft oak that carry through to the palate with flavors of chocolate, blueberry, vanilla, subtle hints of cedar, and soft tannins,” said Shruthi. “It has a kind of rustic elegance that complements the sophisticated notes of dark chocolate and peppermint.”

Sweet-and-sour surprise

Biltmore Estate Sauvignon Blanc with Halloween candy
Create a sweet-and-sour surprise by pairing Biltmore Estate® Sauvignon Blanc with sour gummy candy!

“This is another surprising pairing,” said Shruthi, “mostly because nobody thinks about trying sweet-and-sour Halloween candy with wine–especially an elegant white varietal like Sauvignon Blanc!”

The pairing works on two levels, Shruthi said, beginning with the bright citrus aromas of Biltmore Estate® Sauvignon Blanc that complement the playful scent of the candy.

“Smell them separately,” said Shruthi, “and you’ll start to understand how they can work together. The Sauvignon Blanc is crisp, with refreshing flavors of peach and a touch of minerality that keeps the candy from being overly sweet, making them perfect partners for each other.”

Halloween how-to with Biltmore wine

Couple toasting with red wine near a fire pit
Cheer to pairing Halloween candy with your favorite Biltmore wines!

Ready to try our Halloween how-to and savor Biltmore wines at home with your favorite trick-or-treat candy? Find our award-winning wines at Biltmore Estate in Asheville, NC, online, or close to home with our Retail Locator.

Christmas Tree Tips from Biltmore

Take it from the experts: Biltmore knows Christmas trees, and we’ve got some great tips to make your holiday decorating easier!

Christmas tree experts

Staff help raise the Banquet Hall tree
It takes about 50 employees to bring in the 35-foot fresh Fraser fir and raise it in the Banquet Hall each year.

For nearly 40 years, Biltmore’s engineering team has handled the logistical challenges of carrying a 35-foot-tall tree through Biltmore House and raising it safely and securely in the Banquet Hall for all to enjoy during Christmas at Biltmore and Candlelight Christmas Evenings. Here are their recommendations for putting up your own special Christmas tree: 

Christmas tree safety tips

Woman decorating Christmas tree
Whether you’ve selected a fresh Christmas tree or an artificial one, following basic safety tips can make a brighter holiday for everyone.
  • Purchase the freshest tree possible. Cut off the first inch or so of the base to help the tree absorb more water.
  • Secure your tree in a sturdy base that holds enough water.
  • Select a location in your home that protects the tree from small children and pets. This helps keep everyone safe.
  • For a larger tree, it’s a good idea to install small anchor wires from the tree’s limbs back to the wall using an eye screw or something similar.
  • LED lights are safer than traditional lights. Due to the lower temperature of the lights, there’s less chance of starting a fire.

Biltmore-style sparkle

Woman holding a notebook and surrounded by Christmas decorations
Heather Whitlock, floral designer, surrounded by inspiration for Christmas decor.

Our floral design team begins planning a year in advance to make Biltmore House and the whole estate come alive for the holiday season. If you’ve ever wondered why our Christmas trees look so special, it’s because the floral team takes time to get everything just right—beginning with the lights.

Christmas lights lay across the floor
Strands of lights help create the illuminated magic of the season–at Biltmore or in your home.

Here’s their 3-step “no-fuss” light-stringing technique you can use on your own tree:

  1. Work each light strand from the top of the tree down—in sections—rather than round and round. This cuts down on ladder-climbing time. 
  2. Work the lights in toward the trunk of the tree, then back out to the tip of the next branch, securing the strand by slipping the branch tip between the two wires of the strand.
  3. To make sure the tree is evenly lit, step back, squint your eyes to make things look blurry, and look for dark or overly bright spots. Rearrange or add lights as needed.
Christmas ornament with a string of Christmas lights
Tuck ornaments back into the branches of the Christmas tree to add layers of color and texture.

Once the lights are in place, tuck shiny ornaments deeply into the tree, starting at the trunk, and working outward. This creates depth, color, and supersized shine. Hang special and more decorative ornaments close to the branch tips. Place the largest ornaments near the bottom

To further highlight your décor, place your favorite ornaments into bowls on your dining table, or mix them in baskets with pine cones and pods. Accent your wreaths and garlands with clusters of berries and shiny glass balls of different sizes.

A decorative formula

To achieve a full look with lots of lights, layers, and textures, our Biltmore design experts recommend the following formulas for some of the most common sizes of Christmas trees.

  • 6-foot tree:  8 sets of lights + 3–4 boxes of ornaments
  • 12-foot tree: 26 sets of lights + 7–8 boxes of ornaments
  • 14-foot tree: 32 sets of lights + 10–12 boxes of ornaments

Featured image: Christmas trees in the Banquet Hall at Biltmore House.

Stocking, Storing, And Savoring Biltmore Wines

Whether you’re stocking, storing, or savoring Biltmore wines, this is our most important tip: enjoy the process!

Man in a suit examining the library of Biltmore wines in the Winery
Wine cellars don’t have to be stuffy–evaluate your space and your lifestyle for options!

“Lots of people think that stocking a wine cellar or storing wines is a stuffy, old-fashioned business, but that’s an outdated idea,” said Shruthi Dhoopati, Assistant Winemaker. “We want you to enjoy every part of the experience–especially savoring Biltmore wines!”

1. Evaluate your storage options

Biltmore winter wines with bows
Enjoy the process of stocking and storing Biltmore wines

When deciding which wines to stock this winter, first evaluate your available storage space. Worry not if you don’t have the luxury of a wine cellar (few of us do), but instead ensure that your space is dark, away from movement or vibrations, not too hot or cold (55F˚ is ideal), and has a humidity level between 50% and 80%. A cool spot in a closet or cabinet away from exterior walls and removed from the hustle and bustle of the rest of your home will allow your wine to rest comfortably until it is called into service.

2. Consider your lifestyle

Group of friends toasting with Biltmore wine
With Biltmore wines, all your gatherings are seasoned with cheer!

Reflect upon your favorite ways to indulge when stocking your wines. Are you a homebody who will be drinking a weeknight wine to relax after work? Or a social butterfly who regularly attends cocktail and dinner parties? Map out your month and decide what will work best for your needs and your budget. As well, include in your decision-making process what foods you are more likely to cook at home (see our winter wine recommendations list below for ideas!).

3. Try different wines

Biltmore wines and charcuterie grazing board
Savor our outstanding Biltmore wines with a grazing board at your next gathering

For a fun and economical way to taste and choose, host a wine party with a variety of sweet and spicy hors d’oeuvres and invite your guests to bring a “new to them” bottle within a designated price limit. While you’re out and about, watch for sales to try something different with less risk. Or, for an even more targeted experience, savor a tasting Biltmore Winery and discuss your options with our experienced wine hosts while you sample a selection of award-winning favorites*.

4. Plan ahead

Couple drinking winter wines while they savor in place at home
Include Biltmore wines in your Valentine’s Day celebration!

Review the special occasions that lie on your winter horizon. Will you be celebrating a milestone birthday, enjoying a romantic Valentine’s Day meal, or attending an intimate gathering with friends? Invest in choice bottles to have on hand, whether for a hostess gift or your own meaningful moment. And, be sure to set aside a bottle or two for fetes in years to come, which is also a perfect opportunity to experiment with the effects aging will have on different varietals.

Biltmore’s winter wine recommendations

Woman shopping at the Wine Shop at Biltmore's Winery
Find your favorite Biltmore wines at the estate or online

For a great winter wine foundation, Shruthi suggests trying these winning Biltmore wines:

Biltmore Estate® Chardonnay: For more temperate nights when grilling outdoors is an option, try the subtle oak flavors of Biltmore Estate® Chardonnay with salmon, chicken, and foil-wrapped veggies, or warm up indoors with creamy pasta or clam chowder.

Biltmore Estate® Dry Rosé: If you think it’s just for summer, it’s time to rethink rosé! Ours is refreshing whether served chilled or at room temperature and features crisp layers of delicate berry flavors that complement chicken, pork, salmon, and sausage.

Biltmore Estate® Limited Release Malbec: A wild game dish like venison or bison burgers will be the perfect winter complement to a Biltmore Estate® Limited Release Malbec, or try spicy, vibrant flavors such as those found in chimichurri sauce or Spanish tapas.

Biltmore Estate® Cabernet Sauvignon: Steak, short ribs, and winter vegetables such as squash and portabella mushrooms are perfect with the smooth, vanilla-scented flavor of Biltmore Estate® Cabernet Sauvignon.

Vanderbilt Reserve® Pinot Noir Russian River Valley: Elegant and easy to drink, this versatile wine is right at home whether accompanying roasted pork and poultry or hearty pasta dishes with a tomato-based sauce.

Biltmore Estate® Limited Release Tempranillo: For a well-rounded wine that can stand on its own or complement hearty flavors, sip our spicy, fruit-forward Tempranillo by the glass or serve with beef, pork, or lamb dishes and Gruyère cheese.

Biltmore Estate® Sparkling Wines: Handcrafted in the traditional méthode champenoise at our estate winery, each of our spectacular sparkling wines offers crisp, refreshing flavor and fine bubbles perfect for you’re toasting a special occasion or pairing with your favorite foods.

Savor Biltmore wines now

Couple toasting a small moments with Biltmore wine
Savor all your special small moments with Biltmore wines!

The world of wine is fascinating, and the more you learn, the more addictive it can become. This winter, relish the journey of discovery, and make it a fun process. Shruthi advises, “Enjoy every part of the experience–especially savoring your wines!”

And to keep your stock replenished at a great value, join the Vanderbilt Wine Club® to receive a curated shipment every three months. You’ll thank yourself the rest of the year!