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

Biltmore wine in glasses

Different glassware options for tasting Biltmore wines

Type and shape

When it comes to serving wine, the quality of the glassware 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 glassware 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 vineyard

Guests 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 at Biltmore

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, 1900

1. 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. 1900-1903

2. 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, 1924

5. 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? Our housekeeping team “sweeps into action!”

Deep cleaning

Biltmore House post-Christmas is in need of 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 Library

Housekeeping 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

And the Winner is… Titanic

Please enjoy this archived content from 2018.

Our newest exhibition, Glamour on Board: Fashion from Titanic the Movie, features costumes from the iconic production, which holds the record for the most Academy Award® nominations and the record for the most Oscars® won by a single film.

The 1997 movie was nominated for 14 Academy Awards, tying All About Eve (1950) for the most Oscar nominations. Additionally, it won 11 of those awards, tying Ben Hur (1959)—and later matched by The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003)—for having won the most Oscars.

Titanic’s Academy Awards include:

  • Best Picture
  • Best Director
  • Best Art Direction
  • Best Cinematography
  • Best Costume Design
  • Best Film Editing
  • Best Original Dramatic Score      
  • Best Original Song
  • Best Sound        
  • Best Sound Effects Editing           
  • Best Visual Effects

Needless to say, the award we’re most excited about is “Best Costume Design”—which means that each and every costume on display in our exhibition is a true Academy Award-winner!

While key costumes from the film have been shown in other places, this is the first large-scale display—including outfits of background characters, shoes, accessories, and more.

Here’s a sneak peek at the detailing on a few of those fabulous pieces that’ll be displayed during Glamour on Board.

1. Rose DeWitt Bukater’s Yellow Breakfast Dress will be on display in the Oak Sitting Room during Glamour on Board.

Titanic at Biltmore Yellow Breakfast Dress

2. Rose’s red shoes, along with the famed Jump Dress, will be on display in the Library during Glamour on Board.

Titanic at Biltmore Rose's Red Shoes

3. Rose’s iconic Boarding Hat from the start of the film will be on display near the Winter Garden during Glamour on Board.

Titanic at Biltmore Rose's Boarding Hat

Join us for the exhibition beginning on February 9, 2018 until May 13, 2018. Also, be sure to ask about our limited-time Glamour on Board Premium Guided Tour. In this 90-minute tour, you’ll learn captivating stories behind the costumes’ creation, and get fascinating insights into the elegance of the era’s fashions, culture of the times, costume design, and making of the film.

Remembering Headlines: Titanic’s Cinematic History

Please enjoy this archived content from 2018.

It has become a tradition that movie buffs look forward to in December: A bevy of major motion pictures arrive in theaters in time to be considered as Oscar® contenders when the Academy Awards® are announced soon thereafter. In December 1997, one word seemed to sum up the collection of movies that year: “Titanic.” 

As Biltmore gets ready to exhibit more than 40 stunning costumes from the 1997 blockbuster Titanic, in its newest exhibition Glamour on Board: Fashion from Titanic the Movie, we look back at a few of the reactions from film critics when it was released 20 years ago.  

The well-known film critic Roger Ebert declared that James Cameron’s film “is in the tradition of the great Hollywood epics. It is flawlessly crafted, intelligently constructed, strongly acted and spellbinding…” 

“A Spectacle As Sweeping As The Sea”
The headline atop critic Janet Maslin’s sparkling review in the The New York Times on Dec. 19, 1997, cued readers in a not-so-subtle manner of her delight.   

Ms. Maslin wrote: “What a rarity that makes it in today’s world of meaningless gimmicks and short attention spans: a huge, thrilling three-and-a-quarter-hour experience that unerringly lures viewers into the beauty and heartbreak of its lost world. Astonishing technological advances are at work here, but only in the service of one spectacular illusion: that the ship is afloat again, and that the audience is intimately involved in its voyage.”

Titanic went on to become the most Oscar-winning film ever, raking in a record 11 Academy Awards, including the trophies for Best Picture and Best Costume Design.

Titanic is a fantastic voyage,” wrote Dave Kehr in his review for the New York Daily News. “But Titanic is not merely good. It is a magnificent object, a feat of engineering and an overwhelming visual, aural and emotional experience …”

We look forward to showcasing the luxurious costumes designed by Deborah L. Scott, and worn by actors Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Winslet and many others. Seeing them throughout the rooms of Biltmore House, our guests will experience perfect examples of the wardrobes favored by transatlantic travelers like George and Edith Vanderbilt in the early 1900s.

Titanic soars with charismatic performances, spectacular effects.” – Margaret A. McGurk, Cincinnati Enquirer, Dec. 19, 1997.

Glamour on Board: Fashion from Titanic the Movie begins on February 9, 2018, and will remain on display until May 13, 2018.

Featured image: Rose and Jack (Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio) in the dining scene in “Titanic.” @1997 Courtesy of 20th Century Fox. 

Second image: Rose admires Jack’s artistic talents while aboard the Titanic. @1997 Courtesy of 20th Century Fox.

Uncorked: Meet Biltmore’s Sommelier

If you’ve ever wondered how to choose the perfect wine to accompany your meal, Biltmore’s sommelier can help you uncork the “secrets” of selecting something special.

Speaking from experience

Artur Loli, sommelier for The Inn on Biltmore Estate™, knows that great wine is part of what makes fine dining so memorable.  

Guests at The Dining Room at The Inn on Biltmore Estate

“The Dining Room of The Inn is world-class,” said Artur, “and Chef Eckman’s culinary skills are legendary, so the wines we offer must also be outstanding enough to elevate the entire experience.”

In fact, The Dining Room of The Inn was recently named a new Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star Restaurant. According to Charles Thompson, General Manager of The Inn on Biltmore Estate, these illustrious stars are a remarkable achievement.

“The award speaks to the dedication of our talented staff who truly offer our guests an exceptional travel experience” Charles noted.

Rigorous training

Training to become a sommelier is not an easy process, and often requires years of study to understand and appreciate the nuances of the world’s wines.

Some would-be sommeliers opt for courses through organizations such as the Wine and Spirits Education Trust (WSET) to gain a solid foundation in wine knowledge before pursuing further certification through the Court of Master Sommeliers, the American Sommelier Association, or hospitality schools. Others choose to work in the industry, seeking a combination of hands-on experience and mentorship by working in vineyards, wineries, and wine-driven restaurants.

“You can certainly learn a lot in the classroom,” Artur said, “but there’s no substitute for working in the hospitality industry where you discover what real guests like and dislike. 

Good listener

Artur, who began working in the hospitality field in Santorini, Greece, 25 years ago and has spent the past 16 years with The Inn, knows that good listening skills are one of the most important tools a sommelier can offer.

“Helping someone choose a wine that complements their meal is as much about listening to them as it is about knowing which varietal has good acidity or which vintage is preferable. All our Biltmore wines are outstanding,” he said, “so it’s never about selling more wine or pushing the most expensive wines we offer. What really matters is earning a guest’s trust with wine selections that appeal to their palate, even when that means non-traditional pairings.”

For Artur, the most rewarding thing about being a Biltmore sommelier is that he becomes part of the guests’ experience–especially when they choose to celebrate a special event at The Inn

“It is my pleasure to offer a warm welcome to all our guests, from those who have never joined us before to those who have spent more than 500 nights at The Inn. Helping guests select a bottle of wine, for me, is more than a service standard and a job requirement–it is a passion of mine. Countless times, uncorking a bottle of wine sparks a conversation that is the beginning of creating loyal guests for decades to come.”

Plan your getaway today

Ready to experience the four-star elegance of The Inn on Biltmore Estate? Reserve your special getaway today, and be sure to include The Dining Room–with its impressive new Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star Restaurant designation–in your plans so that Artur Loli and other members of The Inn’s knowledgeable staff can help make your visit more memorable!

Blog images
— Featured image: Artur Loli serves sparkling wine to guests at The Inn
— First image: Guests enjoying wine at The Dining Room of The Inn
— Second image: Artur brings wine to guests at an outdoor event at The Inn
— Third image: A sommelier is an expert at opening wines as well as choosing them