Uncork Refreshing Summer Cocktails with Biltmore Wines

Warm summer temperatures naturally call for cool drinks, so whether you’re poolside or porch-side, uncork refreshing summer cocktails with Biltmore wines!

Try our exceptional sparkling wines in your favorite fizzy cocktails and explore our recipes for homemade sangria.

Sparkling Cocktails

Ruby Slipper   |   Pomegranate Pas de Deux Punch   |   Southern Belle

Sangria

White Wine Sangria   |   Red Wine Sangria

Ruby Slipper

Ingredients

Method
Combine vodka, grapefruit juice, and grenadine in a mixing glass over ice. Shake well and strain over ice in a tall glass. Top with Pas de Deux Moscato. Garnish with a fresh strawberry on the rim. Single serving.


Pomegranate Pas de Deux Moscato Punch

Ingredients

  • 1¼ ounces Stoli Ohranj Vodka
  • ¾ ounces Cointreau
  • 1 ounce pomegranate juice
  • ½ ounce fresh-squeezed orange juice
  • 2 ounces Pas de Deux Moscato Sparkling Wine
  • Orange wheel for garnish

Method
Combine vodka, Cointreau, pomegranate juice, and orange juice in a mixing glass over ice. Shake well and strain over ice in a tall glass. Top with Pas de Deux Moscato. Garnish with an orange wheel. Single serving.


Southern Belle

Ingredients

• 5 ounces Biltmore Estate Romance Brut Sparkling Wine
• 1 ounce Amaretto Disaronno
• 1 ounce apricot brandy
• Fresh apricot or star fruit, sliced for garnish

Method
Pour brandy and amaretto into champagne flute. Add sparkling wine to the glass. Garnish with apricot or star fruit slice. Single serving.


Biltmore Winery’s White Wine Sangria

Ingredients

• 1½ cups sugar
• ½ cup water
• 2 Fuji apples
• 2 D’Anjou pears
• 2 nectarines
• 1 mango
• 2 blood oranges
• 6 oranges
• 3 lemons
• 2 limes
• ½ cup brandy
• 2 bottles Biltmore Estate Chardonnay

Method
Mix sugar and water in a small saucepan to create a simple syrup. Heat over medium heat until sugar is dissolved and set aside to cool. Slice or dice apples, pears, nectarines, mango, blood oranges, 2 oranges, 2 lemons, and 1 lime. Juice the remaining oranges, lemon, and lime.

In a gallon pitcher, mix simple syrup, brandy, juice, and Chardonnay. Add fruit and refrigerate overnight or until needed. Serve in a wine glass filled 2/3 full with ice. Yields 1 gallon.


Red Wine Sangria from The Inn on Biltmore Estate

Ingredients

Method
Mix first 6 ingredients together. Fill 4 wine glasses 2/3 full with ice and top each with 1 ounce of sparkling wine. Garnish each glass with one lime and orange wedge. (This recipe, minus the sparkling wine, can be mixed ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator for up to 7 days.) Serves 4.

Simple syrup: Mix 1½ cups sugar with ½ cup water in a small saucepan and heat over medium heat until sugar is dissolved. Chill.

Enjoying Biltmore’s Shady Pergola

Enjoying Biltmore’s shady Pergola is an ideal way to enjoy a sunny summer day.

This fascinating element is an original design element for the estate’s historic gardens and grounds—let’s take a closer look at this fascinating places. 

Beneath the wisteria canopy of the Pergola—along the base of the South Terrace next to Biltmore House—is a shady retreat filled with history. 

Pergola bustThe Pergola once served as a resting place overlooking a lawn tennis court popular with Edith and Cornelia Vanderbilt and their friends. In 1919, Edith asked Chauncey Beadle, estate superintendent, to convert the original “lawn” court to a clay court; the court was later removed.

Now, this space offers a cool and quiet passageway to the Shrub and Walled Gardens and a location for four marble busts nestled along the stone wall. Look carefully to discover that the quartet represents the four seasons: Spring with flowers, Summer with wheat, Fall with fruit and grapes, and Winter with wind. 

The Pergola itself dates back to the construction of Biltmore House. Grading and construction began in 1891 under the direction of architect Richard Sharp Smith and landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted. This archival photo shows the walking paths from the Pergola through the Shrub Garden and Walled Garden completed, with the Pergola underway and, in the distance, the Conservatory under construction.

Limestone columns and massive wooden rafters form the structure that was originally crowned with ivy. According to Bill Alexander, retired Biltmore landscape and forest historian, Olmsted specified English ivy to be planted at the base of the columns in 1892. “This look of being ‘festooned’ with ivy was typical of Olmsted’s design intent,” Bill said. 

Pergola todayBy 1895, wisteria was planted on the South Terrace and trained to grow out over the Pergola through gaps in the limestone wall created for this purpose. Nearly a century later, Biltmore’s landscape team removed the vines from the top to protect the walls from damage caused by roots, resulting in the leafy and peaceful setting enjoyed today. 

Lending A Hand For A New Arm

At one point, Alex Irvine looked like he was popping the question to one of Biltmore’s oldest residents. 

Earlier this week, Alex, a ceramic artist based in Asheville, didn’t have matrimony in mind. Rather, his down-on-one-knee position at the side of Flora, a 120-year-old statue on the South Terrace of Biltmore House, was more like a healing gesture. 

Asheville artist with sculptural limb at Biltmore

Asheville Artist Alex Irvine shows the ceramic arm he created

The missing limb

Alex has been working with Kara Warren, Preventive Conservation Specialist in the Museum Services department, to re-create an arm that Flora lost decades ago. The original is no longer in Biltmore’s possession. Originally repaired in 2003 using a non-ceramic material, the resulting fix was challenging to maintain and eventually weathered. 

For the new repair, Alex re-created the arm in his home studio using a fired ceramic material which is expected to stand the test of time.

In addition to the missing arm, he has recreated a few missing fingers and a garland that the sculpture held in her hands. 

Asheville artist with statue of Flora at Biltmore

Irvine works with the statue of Flora on the South Terrace of Biltmore House

Who is Flora?

Flora is the Roman goddess of spring who signifies blooming flowers and renewal. The ceramic sculpture is copied after the French artist Antoine Coyzevox’s sculpture Flore (“Flora”). It was offered in a catalog dating back to 1886, along with three other sculptures installed on the South Terrace around 1900. 

In addition to the re-creation and attachment of the missing elements, an internal structure was fabricated to support the arm and garland. Stabilization of the overall surface of the sculpture will also take place.

Asheville artist working on statue of Flora at Biltmore

Irvine installing the new arm on the statue of Flora

Preservation for future generations

This is a great example of the work we do to preserve the estate for generations to come. An added plus in this case is the chance to collaborate with the local arts community.

“We’re excited to have the opportunity to work with a talented local artist for this treatment,” Kara saud. “Alex brings a great deal of knowledge about ceramic work with him.”

Work on the statue will conclude soon.

See for yourself

To see the newly-repaired statue of Flora and all her companions on the South Terrace, plan your Biltmore visit today.

Restoring Our Roof: North Tower Ridge Cap Project

In 2015, several leaks in Biltmore House made it clear the time had come for restoring our roof.

We brought in Huber & Associates, a firm of historical and restoration roofing experts, to remove the original North Tower Ridge Cap from America’s Largest Home.

Restoring the roof of Biltmore House
A worker removes a section of the original ridge cap under the watchful eye of a grotesque carving

After carefully removing each section and taking it back to their Florida workshop, the team used the original pieces as models to build an all-new ridge cap for restoring our roof.

This seven-month project shows our commitment to our continuing mission of preserving Biltmore. Here’s how the work unfolded:

April 2015

The crew arrived at Biltmore and spent several days disassembling the North Tower Ridge Cap and preparing the pieces for travel.

A worker removes a section of the original copper roofing
A member of Huber & Associates carefully removes an original section of the North Tower Ridge Cap

May 2015

Three different weights of copper were discovered — 18, 20, and 24 ounce — as well as a leaf from one of the vertical panels that still had some of the original gold leaf intact!

Restoring the roof panels
An original roof panel with George Vanderbilt’s monogram still shows traces of gold leaf

About 900 individual pieces arrived in Florida, where they were inventoried and analyzed.

June 2015

Scaffolding in place to access North Tower Ridge Cap restoration on roof of Biltmore House
Scaffolding in place to access North Tower Ridge Cap restoration on roof of Biltmore House

Meanwhile, work continued at Biltmore to repair any underlying leaks in the roof, and a temporary ridge cap was created to prevent further damage while the replacement was being built in Florida. 

August 2015

Restoring elements of the roof of Biltmore House
Exact reproductions of decorative copper components from the North Tower Ridge Cap

The crew at Huber & Associates created separate casts for stamping, pouring, and forming new molds to replicate the original pieces.

October 2015

Restoring our roof at Biltmore House
Huber & Associates returned to install the replicated pieces of the ridge cap

Huber & Associates finished their painstaking replication of the North Tower Ridge Cap and brought all the pieces (original and new) back to Biltmore for installation. The photo above shows one of the new copper sections being installed next to an original portion of the ridge cap with its distinctive green patina.

November 2015

Installation of the new North Tower Ridge Cap began and the project was completed in late November. The original pieces were placed in storage.

The new copper ridge cap is a reddish-brown color that looks much like it did when Biltmore House was completed in 1895. It is being allowed to acquire a natural patina over time rather than trying to match it by modern methods.

Restoring our roof with new copper sections
A worker installs a new section of the North Tower Ridge Cap

Biltmore was honored to receive the Griffin Award for Restoration—given annually by The Preservation Society of Asheville and Buncombe County for projects that accurately depict the form, features, and character of a property as it appeared at a particular period of time—for this preservation initiative.

We are grateful to our amazing employees and to Huber & Associates for all their hard work. 

Getting to Know Your Glassware

Ancient origins

The material has ancient origins and was probably first developed by the Egyptians sometime after 2000 BC. It can also occur naturally, as in the case of obsidian and basalt glass produced as a result of volcanic eruptions. 

The form and function of glass have continually been refined throughout the centuries, making it suitable for anything from art to everyday needs such as drinking wine. 

Biltmore wine in glassesDifferent glassware options for tasting Biltmore wines

Type and shape

When it comes to serving wine, the quality of the glass and the shape of the vessel both play an important role in the tasting experience

Wine enthusiasts have long known that the shape of the wine glass affects the taste of the wine,” said Jill Whitfield, Wine Marketing Manager for Biltmore. “It’s important to educate wine drinkers on this fact, because it can change how you experience wine from the tasting room to your own home.”

Server with glasses of red and white Biltmore wine on a tray

A server with red and white Biltmore wines

Standard glassware

A standard tasting glass usually offers a slightly wider base in proportion to a narrower rim, with a stem to keep the heat of your hand from warming the wine. 

“This combination allows you to aerate the wine by swirling it in the bowl, but it doesn’t allow the aromas—a vital component of the tasting process—to escape too quickly,” Jill said. 

  • White Wines
    White wine glasses tend to have smaller bowls to help preserve the floral aromas typical of white wines. The smaller style also helps maintain cooler temperatures, and allows more of the aromatic qualities to be enjoyed since the wine is closer to your nose. Our Biltmore Estate Pinot Grigio is a great example of a lighter-bodied white wine that would benefit from a glass with a smaller bowl design.

     

    Full-bodied whites such as our Biltmore Reserve Chardonnay North Carolina may utilize a slightly larger bowl to showcase the smooth, creamy texture that is characteristic of the varietal.
     

  • Red Wines
    Red wine glasses typically have larger bowls to allow some of the wine’s ethanol to burn off before it reaches your nose, allowing more aromas to be expressed. A wider opening allows the wine to flow more smoothly, which enhances the overall experience. 

    Glasses for serving light-bodied reds such as our Vanderbilt Reserve Pinot Noir Russian River Valley are typically wider and shorter than glasses for full-bodied, heavily tannic reds that include our classic Vanderbilt Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon Dry Creek Valley.

    Flute glasses with Biltmore Estate sparkling wine

Biltmore Estate Blanc de Blancs sparkling wine served in flute glasses

Let it sparkle

According to Jill, sparkling wines are often served in a distinctive flute with a stem. 

“The tall, narrow flute shape keeps the bubbles from escaping as quickly while the stem prevents the chilled wine from coming in contact with your warm hands,” said Jill. 

She notes that aged sparkling wines and those that are especially aromatic may benefit from a tulip glass, which resembles a flute but widens at the waist before narrowing at the rim. As for wide, shallow coupe glasses—they allow the bubbles to fly away, allowing the softer, fruiter aspects of sparkling wines to become more noticeable. 

Biltmore wine being poured into glasses

Pouring Biltmore Estate Dry Rosé into glasses 

Glass or crystal?

“Another important point to consider is the difference between glass and crystal,” Jill said. “The fine, thin texture of crystal is less interactive than glass, meaning that you’ll taste the wine and its specific characteristics more clearly, but glass is more durable and less expensive, so there are benefits to both materials.”

If tasting and understanding the complexities of wine is your goal, definitely invest in the proper equipment to help you succeed. 

Pouring Biltmore wine outdoors at the vineyardGuests enjoy a wine event in Biltmore’s vineyard

“In the meantime,” said Jill, “whether you’re sipping from a plastic festival cup or the tiny crystal cordial glasses passed down through your family, we encourage you to enjoy wine in many forms!”

Learn more

Purchase our award-winning Biltmore wines online, at the estate, or from your local retailer

From the Ground Up: Preparing for Chihuly at Biltmore

Chihuly at Biltmore was on display from May 17 to October 7, 2018.
Please enjoy this archived content.

While still in high school, Clare Cottrell discovered two important things that would help shape her future: 1) it was possible to have a career in Public Horticulture, and 2) the location of her dream job was Biltmore.

Clare joined Biltmore’s landscaping team in 2007 after earning her degree in Horticulture Management at Bob Jones University. She served in a number of garden-related roles before becoming Supervisor of Gardens and Conservatory in 2017.

Clare Cottrell at work in Biltmore's Conservatory

Clare at work in the Conservatory

Chihuly at Biltmore

In addition to her day-to-day responsibilities supervising these areas, Clare was also involved with the preparations to host Chihuly at Biltmore—the first art exhibition in our historic gardens and the first North Carolina garden exhibition by artist Dale Chihuly whose works are included in more than 200 museum collections worldwide.

“The preparation for this exhibition was intense,” Clare said, “but it is wonderful to have our gardens be a focal point for guests in 2018.”

Base for Chihuly sculpture in Walled Garden at Biltmore

Base for one of the Chihuly sculptures in the Walled Garden

Planning and preparation

Planning for Chihuly at Biltmore—and its special evening component Chihuly Nights at Biltmore—began nearly two years ago and includes the addition of major infrastructure in our gardens. Power and data lines had to be in place before last year’s spring tulip bulbs were planted, and in a carefully timed three-month period during fall 2016, two crews spent three months installing underground utilities.

In November 2017, the foundations for Chihuly’s sculptures were installed, and some of the complimentary garden plantings were completed.

Chihuly sculpture mounted on its base (shown above) in the Walled Garden

“Specific types and colors of plants were planned around the sculptures and will change with the seasons,” said Clare. “Many of the botanical elements help provide a protective buffer for the artworks, such as low-growing juniper and sedges planted around the foundation of one of the large pieces in the Walled Garden.”

Towering palm in the Conservatory at Biltmore

Towering palm in the Conservatory

Palm project

According to Clare, some long-term garden maintenance projects had to be completed ahead of schedule to prepare for the exhibition.

“Because of the sculptures that are displayed in the Conservatory, we went ahead with a major overhaul of the Palm Room,” Clare said. “There are more than 200 palms in the Conservatory, and some of them are very old. We re-potted and repositioned them to focus the view on the ends where Chihuly’s Chandeliers are installed.”

Walled Garden and Conservatory at Biltmore

Walled Garden and Conservatory at Biltmore

The future looks bright

Even with the demands of the extra planning and preparation, Clare is excited that the estate is hosting Chihuly at Biltmore now through October 17, and she looks forward to the future.

“This exhibition has given us the opportunity to upgrade the infrastructure of the gardens, and that means we can try new ideas and events,” said Clare.

Featured blog image: Clare Cottrell, Supervisor of Gardens and Conservatory 

Spring is a Special Time to Honor Olmsted

Spring is a special time to honor Frederick Law Olmsted, Biltmore’s landscape designer.

Bench by Biltmore's Bass Pond
A quiet spot near the Bass Pond highlights Olmsted’s landscape design

When designing Biltmore’s historic gardens and grounds, Olmsted knew that spring would set the stage for all the glorious seasons to come.

Today, the meticulously maintained landscape still stand as a timely tribute to Olmsted’s springtime birthday.

Born April 26, 1822, Olmsted is known as “the father of American landscape architecture,” with premiere projects including Central Park in New York City and the grounds of California’s Stanford University.

Olmsted designed this lagoon to reflect Biltmore House
The Lagoon is one of Olmsted’s many landscape designs for Biltmore

“There are many beautiful American parks and landscapes that reflect Olmsted’s genius,” said Parker Andes, Director of Horticulture, “but it’s the design for Biltmore that is considered Olmsted’s masterpiece.”

According to Parker, Olmsted had already worked on several Vanderbilt family projects when George Vanderbilt approached him in 1888 for advice on the North Carolina property he’d already purchased.

“Now I have brought you here to examine it and tell me if I have been doing anything very foolish,” Vanderbilt reportedly told Olmsted.

Olmsted’s frank assessment

Azaleas along the Approach Road in spring
The Approach Road to Biltmore House is lined with azaleas each spring

“Olmsted was frank in his assessment, advising Vanderbilt that the soil seemed to be generally poor, with most of the good trees having been culled already,” Parker said. “He noted that the topography was unsuitable for creating the type of park scenery that characterized the English country estates that Vanderbilt admired.”

Olmsted planned colorful blooms for spring in Biltmore's Shrub Garden
Colorful spring blooms in Biltmore’s Shrub Garden

Plans for both the house and landscape changed in 1889 when Vanderbilt and architect Richard Morris Hunt toured France together and the scale of Biltmore House and its surrounding gardens expanded.

Olmsted wrote that he was nervous, not sure how to “merge stately architectural work with natural or naturalistic landscape work,” but Olmsted biographer Witold Rybczynki says that the landscape architect achieved something completely original at Biltmore: the first combination of French and English landscape designs.

White wisteria blooming in Biltmore's Walled Garden
White wisteria blooming in the Walled Garden

“You can see Olmsted’s creativity and skill in the transitions between Biltmore’s formal and natural gardens, and his use of native plants, small trees and large shrubs, and color and texture year-round,” said Parker. 

Now that Biltmore welcomes 1.7 million guests each year, the historic gardens and grounds must be protected and preserved as carefully as Biltmore House and all other original parts of the estate.

Kids in Biltmore's Azalea Garden
Guests of all ages love discovering Biltmore’s “outdoor rooms” like the Azalea Garden

“In addition to the impact of so many visitors, the landscape has changed and matured over the past century,” said Parker, “and the challenge for today’s landscaping team lies in determining what Olmsted intended.”

Landscaping crew at work in Biltmore's Walled Garden
Landscaping crews at work to carry on Olsted’s vision for Biltmore

“The team uses archival resources such as early plans, original plant lists, letters of correspondence, weekly reports written during the construction of the estate, and information about Olmsted’s design philosophies to help them preserve the landscape style while remaining true to Olmsted’s vision,” Parker noted.

Plan your visit this spring

Prepare to be dazzled as the splendor of spring unfolds across Biltmore’s historic gardens and grounds and thousands of blossoms create a tapestry of color across the estate.

Featured blog image: A couple enjoys a visit to the estate’s historic gardens and grounds

A Sneak Peek at “The Vanderbilts at Home and Abroad”

Please enjoy this archived content from 2018

Premiering March 15 at The Biltmore Legacy, The Vanderbilts at Home and Abroad details George Vanderbilt’s youth and boyhood travels, his courtship and marriage to Edith Stuyvesant Dresser, and the birth of their daughter, Cornelia Vanderbilt.

In addition to family life, stories about their travels and lives on the estate are chronicled, and a variety of rare objects and personal photos from the Biltmore House collection are showcased. In honor of this upcoming exhibit, here’s a sneak peek at some of the items that will be on display:

Louis Vuitton travel trunk, 19001. Louis Vuitton travel trunk

Edith Vanderbilt’s elegant Louis Vuitton travel trunk, ca. 1900, has her initials E.S.V. engraved on the top. This fashionable piece served as her luggage for many of the Vanderbilt’s frequent trips to Europe.

Edith Vanderbilt's No. 4 Panoram Kodak camera Model B, ca. 1900-19032. Edith Vanderbilt’s Personal Cameras

Edith was an avid photographer who chronicled the lives of her family while living at Biltmore and traveling the world. Two of her personal cameras will be on display: her No. 4 Panoram Kodak camera Model B, ca. 1900-1903 (pictured); and her No. 3 Folding Pocket Kodak camera Model G, ca. 1912.

Samurai warrior armor from Japan’s Edo period (1615-1868)3. Samurai Armor

This suit of Samurai warrior armor dates to Japan’s Edo period (1615-1868). Made of iron, lacquer, leather, textiles, and silk, the armor caught the eye of George Vanderbilt during his travels in the Far East.

Japanese daggers from the Meiji period (1868-1912)4. Japanese Daggers

Also souvenirs from George Vanderbilt’s travels in the Far East, these ornate daggers were prized by Western collectors and are exquisite examples of traditional lacquer and metalwork. They are made of steel, lacquer, gold, bronze, and silk from the Meiji period (1868-1912).

Cartier hat pin, 19245. Cartier Hat Pin

In addition to the antique books, tableware, and decorative objects that Cornelia Vanderbilt Cecil and Honorable John F. A. Cecil received for their 1924 wedding, they also received jewelry, including this Cartier hat pin, made of carved jadeite, sapphire, diamond, and platinum.

Join us for The Vanderbilts at Home and Abroad—included in your estate admission—to view these items and other exceptional pieces while learning more about the fascinating family that called Biltmore “home.”

Housekeeping in America’s Largest Home®

What happens in America’s Largest Home® after we un-deck our massive halls from the splendor of Christmas at Biltmore

Deep cleaning

Our housekeeping team “sweeps into action,” giving Biltmore House the kind of deep cleaning that can’t be accomplished during the busy holiday season.

“It’s my favorite time of year,” said Connie Dey, housekeeping supervisor. “We jump right into some of our biggest cleaning projects, from the Basement all the way to Fourth Floor.” 

Lights, dusters, action!

There are plenty of smaller jobs, too, and for these, Connie relies on her flashlight that busts dust in all its hiding places, a soft goat hair brush, and a Swiffer-style duster created in-house to meet Museum Services standards. Armed with these trusty tools, Connie and her team can carefully clean even the most delicate pieces in the collection. 

“It takes several weeks of special training to learn how to care for the objects in Biltmore House,” Connie said, “and even then, it can be a little scary to start handling things on your own.”

Books on shelves in Biltmore's LibraryHousekeeping by the numbers

According to Connie, it takes three members of her seven-person team approximately four days to clean the books and shelves in the Library. We did the math: it works out to be about 833 books—plus shelf space—per person, per day! 

“We’re used to working at a fast pace and not getting in the guests’ way during their visit,” said Connie, “but lots of people are fascinated by the process, and they want to watch us work.”

Safety first

While hard hats aren’t the most common sight in Biltmore House, some cleaning projects require extra safety precautions. To reach the Grand Staircase chandelier or the arched doorways of the Banquet Hall, Engineering Services puts industrial scaffolding in place to help Housekeeping reach new heights in cleaning.

“It’s a strange feeling to have that enormous chandelier move slightly as you vacuum the cups around the lights,” Connie said, “but we have work to do, so we keep going. I can only imagine how difficult some of these tasks must have been for past housekeepers, without today’s safety controls and technology to make it faster and easier.”

Part of our preservation story

Although Connie has been a member of Housekeeping for nine years, she says she never gets tired of the work. 

“My team takes great pride in cleaning Biltmore House,” Connie explained. “We’re not only keeping it clean, but we’re also looking at things constantly to detect possible problems, and that makes us an important part of Biltmore’s preservation story.”

Plan your Biltmore getaway

Winter is a wonderful time to visit the estate, and you may catch Housekeeping “brushing up” on their deep cleaning projects!

Blog images
Featured image: Connie Dey uses a soft brush to dust an intricate clock in the Salon
First image: Connie cradles a lamp base close to her body
Second image: Freshly-dusted books and shelves in the Library
Third image: Mildred Florence of Housekeeping at work in the Banquet Hall
Fourth image: Connie checks to make sure no dust has settled on the linens in the Breakfast Room

Patron of the Arts: George Vanderbilt

As a patron of the arts, George Vanderbilt remains a remarkable example of the difference one man can make.

With his deep appreciation and understanding of arts and languages and his vision for a self-sustaining country estate, George Vanderbilt could easily be called a “Renaissance man;” a description given to individuals who possess many talents or areas of knowledge and are considered versatile and well-rounded in a number of fields.
 

Photographic portrait of young George VanderbiltPatron of the arts

George Vanderbilt did more than simply collect and appreciate art, however; he was also a passionate patron who befriended artists such as John Singer Sargent and James McNeill Whistler, commissioning their works for his home and corresponding with them far beyond the particulars of portraiture.

Literary authors including Edith Wharton and Henry James were welcomed at Biltmore, and George Vanderbilt’s close friend and author Paul Leicester Ford spent several weeks at the estate while working on his novel Janice Meredith: A Story of the American Revolution
 

George Vanderbilt's personal bookplate

Personal philanthropy

In addition to his personal friendships, George Vanderbilt was a great proponent of public access to the arts, using his philanthropic values to ensure that others could benefit from institutions such as free lending libraries.

While most libraries of that era required patrons to pay for the books they borrowed, Vanderbilt provided funding to build the Jackson Square Free Circulating Library of the New York Public Library System and filled it with books that he donated. This library was one of the first open to the general public.

Rhinocerous by Albrecht DurerOne of George Vanderbilt’s most significant donations was to The American Fine Arts Society in support of young artists. In 1892, Vanderbilt donated $100,000 to pay for the property and construct the building that the Society would use for exhibiting members’ work.

Named the Vanderbilt Gallery in his honor, the inaugural exhibition was a show of Rembrandt and Durer prints, plus prints based on the paintings of Sir Joshua Reynolds, all from George Vanderbilt’s personal collection. While the Rembrandt prints are no longer part of the collection, some of the Durer prints and those after the style of Reynolds remain at Biltmore today.

Living the legacy

We continue George Vanderbilt’s passion for the arts today by hosting exhibitions such as Legends of Art & Innovation at Biltmore featuring three different large-scale, multi-sensory events—created and produced by Grande Experiences using the very latest in immersive technology to illuminate the remarkable lives of Van Gogh, Monet, and Da Vinci and their timeless masterpieces of art and design.

Each individual component of this must-see series offers fascinating ties to Vanderbilt’s collection of treasures on display in Biltmore House, his magnificent family home, in Asheville, North Carolina.

Blog images:
Featured: Bronze bust of George Vanderbilt by Mary Grant
First image: Photographic portrait of young George Vanderbilt
Second image: George Vanderbilt’s personal bookplate
Third image:
Rhinocerous print by Albrecht Durer in Biltmore’s collection