Holiday Gingerbread at The Inn on Biltmore Estate

This gingerbread creation was on display during Christmas at Biltmore in 2018.

Please enjoy this archived content.

To celebrate Christmas at Biltmore, we deck the halls of America’s Largest Home®, place thousands of twinkling lights in Antler Hill Village, and turn the ceiling of our Winery into a dazzling burst of ornamental bubbles that resemble a glass of sparkling wine.

And then there’s the gingerbread.

Holiday tradition

Each year, The Inn on Biltmore Estate® constructs a spectacular scene out of gingerbread, carefully crafting all the delicious details with a sampler of sweets including frosting, candies, cookies, and more.

Decorating gingerbread at The Inn on Biltmore Estate

Leilani Padilla with The Inn’s pastry team adds “snow” to branches

This year’s building project is a replica of the Lodge Gate—one of the first historic buildings you’ll see when you arrive at Biltmore

Serving as the estate’s main entrance, the impressive structure was designed by Richard Morris Hunt, the same architect who designed Biltmore House. It features a wide two-story arch that guests have been driving through for more than a century.  

Biltmore's iconic Lodge Gate with Christmas decorations

Biltmore’s iconic Lodge Gate, decorated for the holidays

Historic inspiration

“It’s a challenge to replicate the look of original estate architecture,” said The Inn’s Pastry Chef Dana McFarland, “but we loved creating something so special for our guests to enjoy during their stay with us.”

Under construction

For 2018, Chef McFarland and her team set their sights on the Lodge Gate. From the steep tiled roof and distinctive brick and stucco exterior to the iconic arch, this glorious gingerbread creation was a labor of love that tested their engineering abilities.

Decorating gingerbread at The Inn on Biltmore Estate

Demi chef Megan Shreve adds details by hand 

Work began the week after Thanksgiving, with pastry team members* spending a combined 150 hours to bake, assemble, and decorate their holiday masterpiece

The Inn's pastry team decorates their gingerbread project

(L-R) Team members Leilani Padilla, Megan Shreve, and Laura Hinzman

“Our shopping list for ingredients was a little overwhelming,” Chef McFarland admits.

Shopping list

• Powdered sugar: 200 lbs. 
• Chocolate: 40 lbs. 
• Foiled chocolate balls: 35 lbs. 
• Rolled wafer cookies: 30 lbs. 
• Gingerbread: 20 lbs.
• Fondant: 20 lbs. 
• Isomalt: 20 lbs. 
• Rock candy: 15 lbs. 
• M&M’S®: 6 lbs.
• Jordan almonds: 2 lbs. 
• Gumballs: ½ lb. 

Inside information

Snowman and raccoon are part of the gingerbread display

Look for charming touches like these BFFs (Best Frosting Friends)!

Cinnamon-scented smoke coming out of the gingerbread chimney

On display now through January 7, 2019, The Inn’s gingerbread Lodge Gate is a feast for the eyes and the nose. 

“In addition to the spicy fragrance of ginger and the sweetness of all the candy decorations, we placed a cinnamon-scented infuser inside the structure,” said Chef McFarland.

“It makes it look as if there’s real smoke coming from the chimney—and it smells delicious!”

Create your own gingerbread masterpiece

Join us for a Gingerbread Tea at The Inn—a time-honored tradition that offers fun for all ages! The Inn’s pastry chef will be on hand to assist you as you decorate your house with a selection of colorful candies. Also available, assorted tea sandwiches and desserts from our Holiday Tea menu, and for an additional charge, seasonal cocktails. Find complete details and make reservations now for December 15, 16, 19, 20, 21, or 22 by calling 866-336-1245.

*Pastry team members 
Ashley Buchleitner
Aspen Galley
Dana McFarland
Karen Neal
Laura Hinzman
Leilani Padilla
Lucas Conti
Megan Shreve
Rachel Tipping
Tony Mushinski

Featured blog image: Biltmore’s Lodge Gate, constructed of gingerbread, on display now at The Inn on Biltmore Estate

Designing Christmas One Room at a Time

Please enjoy this archived content from our
2018 Christmas at Biltmore celebration.

To create the magic of Christmas at Biltmore, our Floral Displays team* draws inspiration from the details of America’s Largest Home®, including the style and furnishings of the rooms and objects from Biltmore’s collection displayed within them.

For 2018, let’s explore the stunning holiday décor created for some of the most iconic rooms in Biltmore House, learning how each designer brings their vision to life.

Grand Staircase Christmas tree in Biltmore House
The Grand Staircase tree offers heavenly inspiration with stars and cherubs

Vestibule, Entry Hall, and Grand Staircase

“This connected set of open spaces is the first thing guests see when entering Biltmore House,” said Joslyn Kelly, floral designer, “and it sets the tone for their whole visit.”

For the Vestibule, Joslyn used crystal garland and swags accented with gold to create an impression of entering heaven. She placed trees behind the paned glass in that area, adding twinkling lights for a star-like effect. 

The heavenly theme continues into the Entry Hall, with soft, iridescent hues of blue, gold, and pink drawn from the painted ceiling in the Library. Look for candelabras on the table above a seasonal display of fresh poinsettias and amaryllis.

“I chose a very different look for the tree under the Grand Staircase this year,” said Joslyn. “I was inspired by the celestial details on the face of the grandfather clock that stands nearby.” 

Crowned with suspended stars and featuring charming cherub ornaments, this tree is centered under the Grand Staircase Chandelier, making it appear as though the four-story light is the tree topper. 

“The tree looks different at each level, giving our guests a new perspective as they go up and down the Grand Staircase.”

Renoir-inspired Mediterranean colors in the Breakfast Room

Breakfast Room

“When you have two paintings by Renoir in a room, that’s a wonderful source of inspiration,” said Sara Merkel, another member of Biltmore’s Floral Displays team. 

“The artist painted these after he retired to the Mediterranean, so I’ve pulled out the warm orange and green tones of the region that are featured in both Child with Orange and Young Algerian Girl, plus a bit of blue for the Wedgwood-style fireplace surround.” 

In addition to the colors, look for Sara’s décor to incorporate a rich assortment of herbs, olives, fruit, pomanders, and nuts.

Pretty details in the Morning Salon honor the Vanderbilt family’s Dutch heritage

Morning Salon

Designed to appear as though Edith Vanderbilt might be using the space to write out her Christmas cards, Deborah Link of Floral has created a feminine feel with elegant cobalt and gold ribbon and a Victorian tussie-mussie on the desk. 

“In addition to those elements, I wanted to hint at both George and Edith Vanderbilt’s Dutch origins with classic blue-and-white Delft-style ornaments on the tree,” said Deborah.

Eiffel Tower and fleur-de-lis ornaments evoke a Parisian feeling in Mrs. Vanderbilt’s Bedroom

Mrs. Vanderbilt’s Bedroom

“We’re telling a very special story about George and Edith Vanderbilt this year,” said floral designer Kyla Dana. “The tree décor is inspired by the first Christmas of their courtship, which took place in Paris.”

According to archival information, George’s close friend Willie Field secretly took one of George’s stockings and gave it to Edith who filled it with treats including a copy of Quo Vadis—a novel George Vanderbilt enjoyed.

When you enter Mrs. Vanderbilt’s Bedroom, note that the room features a lush mix of purples, ambers, and oranges, all inspired by the colors of the distinctive oval ceiling.

Lucinda Ledford points out a delicate spiderweb ornament on the Billiard Room tree

Billiard Room

Lucinda Ledford with Biltmore Floral sought to bring the great outdoors into Biltmore House with details drawn from Buckspring Lodge—the Vanderbilts’ rustic retreat built on the slopes of Mt. Pisgah

“Since this room features sporting prints and other elements of outdoor pursuits,” said Lucinda, “I utilized natural colors and textures such as feathers and pine cones to introduce a woodland tone. There are also small framed photographs of the Vanderbilt family on the tree as ornaments.”

Banquet Hall Christmas tree

Other 2018 Christmas at Biltmore Highlights:

  • Banquet Hall
    • From the 35-foot fresh Fraser fir at one end to the triple fireplaces at the other, the Banquet Hall is a traditional guest favorite and one of the most beloved rooms in Biltmore House
  • Library
    • Themed around George Vanderbilt’s love of travel—especially nautical travel—the décorations will include ships, stars, and rope knots. 
  • Oak Sitting Room
    • ​Look for colorful décor in rich jewel tones of red, cobalt, gold, and green, all drawn from the room’s splendid Axminster—the only rug of English origin in Biltmore House.
  • Watson Room
    • As the sole room featuring twin beds, it’s easy to imagine children staying here on Christmas Eve. Look for stockings hanging on the bedposts and a small floor tree decorated with dolls, beads, and German blown glass ornaments.
  • South Tower Room
    • This charming scene features a table with paper, ribbon, and gifts since archival notes tell us this is where Edith Vanderbilt wrapped her gifts for the Christmas season!

Creating Christmas With Lizzie Borchers

When your responsibilities include decorating America’s Largest Home® for Christmas, you want to make sure you’re ready for the start of the holiday season.

Father and daughter enjoy Christmas at Biltmore

Create a Biltmore Christmas tradition with your family

Ahead of schedule

“We’re a little ahead of schedule this year,” said Lizzie Borchers, Floral Displays Manager for Biltmore, “and that’s a great place to be, because there’s no telling what bumps we may encounter!”

Now in her second year leading the team that creates the spectacular décor for Christmas at Biltmore, Lizzie feels she’s got a handle on the whole process.

“I feel fortunate to have gone through the entire Christmas at Biltmore season last year before I had to plan it all,” she said. 

Members of Biltmore's landscaping team with poinsettias

Todd Roy, Clare Cottrell, and Kathryn Marsh of Biltmore’s landscaping team with decorative poinsettias 

Team effort

Although her team includes nearly a dozen full-time floral designers and several reserve members who assist with special events, it still takes more than 100 people to bring Christmas together, from housekeeping and engineering to logistics, landscaping, and more.

Not everything happens as expected, however, and Lizzie admits they always have back-up plans, just in case. 

“Orders can be delayed and things can change at the last minute, but we make it work, even if it means pulling extra items out of storage. It’s really all about the details—that’s what sets Biltmore apart. We’re fastidious about what we do, from developing beautiful displays that delight our guests all the way to straightening the ornaments and carefully spacing the lights.”

Antler Hill Village illuminated for the season

Beyond Biltmore House

In addition to decorating Biltmore House, Lizzie’s team also enlivens Antler Hill Village & Winery, both hotels, and all estate restaurants and shops with seasonal splendor

Compared to the formal tone of Biltmore House, Lizzie and her team create a more rustic feel that is authentic for the village.

More than 7,000 ornaments decorate the Winery ceiling

Bubble ornaments sparkle at the Winery

“Inspired by the name, we’ve used a lot of antlers in the décor this year. We’ve added more illuminated grapevine spheres around the Village Green and more cascading waterfall lights in the trees—guests told us how much they love those. And don’t forget all the beautiful bubbles adorning the Winery ceiling—it’s like being inside a glass of champagne!”

Memories that last a lifetime

Although she doesn’t plan to make sweeping changes to the look and feel of the estate’s decorations, Lizzie wants to continue exploring ways to distinguish between Christmas at Biltmore during the day and Candlelight Christmas Evenings at night.

Choirs perform in the Winter Garden during Candlelight Christmas Evenings at Biltmore

Choirs perform in the Winter Garden during Candlelight Christmas Evenings

“They’re very different experiences,” she said, “and I want to ensure that our guests enjoy how special the décor is during regular hours, and then return at night to an entirely different feeling, like they’ve stepped back in time. Christmas is the perfect season to discover Biltmore all over again.”

Featured blog image: Lizzie Borchers with some of the “bubbles” that adorn the Winery ceiling

Savor the Art and Science of Winemaking

“The art and science of winemaking—for nearly 20 years, that’s how Bernard Delille and I described ourselves,” said Sharon Fenchak, winemaker and vice president of wine production for Biltmore.

Sharon Fenchak and Bernard Delille enjoy a glass of wine in Biltmore's vineyard
Biltmore winemakers Sharon Fenchak and Bernard Delille (now retired) enjoy a glass of wine in Biltmore’s vineyard

“Before his retirement in 2018, that’s also what we accomplished as a team,” Sharon said. 

A shared philosophy

“Our backgrounds were very different, with Bernard having begun his winemaking career in France,” said Sharon, “while my passion for the craft began while I was in the U.S. Army, stationed in Vicenza, Italy.

Despite their differences, the two shared a philosophy of creating high-quality wines that are true to varietal character while still being food-friendly and approachable.

Savor the art and science of Biltmore wines
Sharon and Bernard at work in Biltmore’s wine lab, tasting the scientific results of the art of winemaking

Raising a glass to retirement

When Bernard announced he planned to retire in July 2018, all the members of the wine production team wanted to handcraft a special wine that would commemorate their years of working together.

“We knew it had to be outstanding,” Sharon said. “It needed to speak to all that we’ve accomplished as a team, and to reflect the distinctive direction in which we’ve developed Biltmore wines.”

Art and science in Biltmore’s vineyard

Grapes ripening in Biltmore's vineyard
Grapes ripening in Biltmore’s vineyard

For the wine itself, Sharon and the wine production team looked no further than the natural outgrowth of “art and science” in Biltmore’s vineyard.

When she joined Biltmore’s wine production team in 1999, one of Sharon’s first projects involved a clonal selection initiative in the estate’s vineyards. “Clone” refers to a cutting or bud from an original varietal.

Biltmore winemaker Sharon Fenchak in the vineyard
In addition to her other winemaking responsibilities, Sharon oversees the estate’s vineyard

“The vineyard team was working with Dijon Chardonnay clones,” said Sharon, “and we were looking for those best suited to the conditions of the estate vineyard. From a winemaking and viticulture standpoint, clones 76, 95, and 96 showed great promise, producing smaller, looser clusters of grapes with more intense flavors and aromatics.”

The 2017 harvest of these distinctive clones would result in the first release featuring them exclusively, and Sharon knew these grapes were the perfect ones for a signature Chardonnay in honor of Bernard’s dynamic career and their long partnership.

Labeling a work of art

“For the label, we wanted something that illustrated the idea of art and science,” Sharon said. “The marketing team created a number of different concepts, from traditional monograms to some very fun graphics that had grape vines turning into the scientific formula for malolactic fermentation!”

X marks the spot

Commemorative label for the Bernard and Sharon wine
The commemorative Chardonnay label featuring Bernard’s handwriting font at the bottom

According to Lisa Vogel, art director, the design finally came together with an X-shaped cross of the two winemakers’ names and a traditional wax seal featuring their initials in the middle.

“Everyone admired Bernard’s beautiful penmanship,” said Lisa, “so we created a special font entitled ‘Delille’ from his actual handwriting to further personalize the collaboration represented by the label and the wine inside the bottle.”

“It’s a remarkable Chardonnay with a compelling label,” said Sharon. “I hope that everyone who tries it truly savors the art and science of winemaking it represents—including the expertise of our vineyard team who nurtured and harvested the grapes and the care with which the wine production team handcrafts all our Biltmore wines.”

Savor our wines by the bottle or glass

Woman enjoying Biltmore Estate Chardonnay
Biltmore wines are perfect for warm weather sipping!

Purchase Biltmore wines at the estate, online, or find them close to home.

While visiting Biltmore’s Winery, reserve a time to savor a complimentary tasting of our award-winning wines in person.

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