10 Fast Facts: Legends of Art & Innovation at Biltmore

Here are 10 fast facts to help you learn more about each of the three individual Legends of Art & Innovation at Biltmore exhibition series:

Fast Fact #1: George Vanderbilt and Vincent van Gogh share a Dutch heritage

Van Gogh Alive multi-sensory experience
A guest explores Van Gogh Alive, created and produced by Grande Experiences

Artist Vincent van Gogh, the subject of our Van Gogh Alive exhibition that ends March 5, 2022, was born in 1853 in the Dutch village of Zundert.

Jan Aertson Van der Bildt (c. 1620–1704) emigrated from Holland to New Amsterdam (now New York City) around 1650. Jan Aertson had numerous children by several wives. His first three children were by his first wife Anneken Hendricks, who he married around the time he came to America. Among those children was Aris Janse, George Vanderbilt’s great-great-great-great-grandfather.

George Vanderbilt was also inspired by his Dutch origin when he selected “Bilt” as the core part of the name for his estate.

Fast Fact #2: An interest in Asian art

George Vanderbilt visited Japan in 1892 and brought back 32 cases of art and decorative objects, including a suit of samurai armor that dates to Japan’s Edo period (1615–1868).

The late 19th century saw an increased fascination with Japan following its opening to the western world, especially in regards to its art and material culture (this trend was referred to as Japonisme).

Both Vincent van Gogh and George Vanderbilt demonstrated an interest in Japan: Van Gogh, through the study of Japanese prints that he collected, painting his own interpretations of the “exotic” style.

George Vanderbilt personally visited Japan in 1892, ultimately shipping home 32 cases full of “curios” that were scattered throughout Biltmore House. Edith and Cornelia Vanderbilt also visited Japan in the early 1920s.

Though Van Gogh never visited Japan, his correspondence shows that he felt that southern France was more evocative of Japanese atmosphere and landscape, which was one of the reasons he was drawn to Arles from Paris.

Fast Fact #3: A shared love of sunflowers

Sunflowers blooming at Biiltmore
Enjoy a later-summer getaway with a sea of sunflowers blooming at Biltmore!

Vincent van Gogh found great inspiration in sunflowers. He loved their bright color, which many other artists found too garish. During his time in Arles, France, Van Gogh wrote “I find comfort in contemplating the sunflowers,” to Emile Bernard, c. August 18, 1888.

Each year, Biltmore plants a swathe of late-summer sunflowers along the path from Antler Hill Village toward the Lagoon. We hope the glowing golden blooms provide inspiration and enjoyment for today’s guests as well as a welcome treat for wildlife!

Fast Fact #4: Meet Monet & Friends March 9–July 10, 2022

Breathtaking displays from Monet & Friends
Breathtaking displays from Monet & Friends, showcasing the life and works of many Impressionist painters

From March 9–July 10, 2022, Biltmore will be hosting the multisensory Monet & Friends – Life, Light & Color, created and produced by Grande Experiences, on the grounds of the estate. You’ll be able to immerse yourself in breathtaking paintings projected on an enormous scale, illuminating the bold brushstrokes of Claude Monet, Camille Pissarro, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Paul Cézanne, Edgar Degas, and more.

Two landscape painting by Claude Monet–Strada Romana à Bordighera (1884) and Belle-Île, le chenal de Port-Goulphar (1886)–were both purchased by George Vanderbilt from Durand-Ruel, the noted dealer of Impressionist art, in 1892.

There was also a third Monet landscape that Vanderbilt collected, though unfortunately it is not in Biltmore’s collection today. Correspondence indicates that at least one of the Monet paintings spent some time in the Vanderbilts’ Paris apartment, but none of them show up in any interior photos of Biltmore House. This is the first time in many years that the paintings are being installed in Biltmore House for more permanent display.

Fast Fact #5: Savor a masterpiece

Masterpiece Collection white wine with glasses
Savor our new Masterpiece Collection White Wine!

In honor of having two of Monet’s masterpieces on display in Biltmore House, we’ve created a new wine for our Masterpiece Collection.

The inaugural release is a crisp, smooth, refreshing white blend handcrafted to honor George Vanderbilt’s legacy as a passionate collector of extraordinary art and exceptional vintages, with a stunning label that features Claude Monet’s colorful Strada Romana à Bordighera landscape painting.

Fast Fact #6: Breakfast with Renoir

Renoir paintings at Biltmore House
(L-R) “Young Algerian Girl” and “Child with an Orange” by Pierre-Auguste Renoir

In addition to the Monets he collected, Vanderbilt also acquired two paintings by Pierre-Auguste Renoir from Durand-Ruel in 1892. Both appear in the earliest photos of the Breakfast Room, meaning they have been on display in America’s Largest Home® for around a hundred years—possibly longer!

Child with an Orange (1881) and Young Algerian Girl (1882) represent a lesser-known part of Renoir’s work when he was painting colorful scenes from Algeria rather than life in Paris.

George Vanderbilt visited the Mediterranean region several times in his life, including an 1894 trip that included stops in Algeria.

Fast Fact #7: Lasting impressions

George Vanderbilt portrait by James Whistler
George Washington Vanderbilt. 1897-1903. James McNeill Whistler. Oil on canvas. Courtesy National Gallery of Art, Washington.

Impressionism interested Vanderbilt so much that in the late 1800s he acquired a total of 16 paintings by Claude Monet, Édouard Manet*, Pierre Auguste Renoir, Maxime Maufra, and James McNeill Whistler to furnish his homes.

While many of those names have become synonymous in the modern era with Impressionism and high-value art, others (like Maufra) are less well-known. George Vanderbilt seemed to collect those works that he enjoyed, not purely because they were associated with famous names.

Correspondence reveals that George Vanderbilt was often acquiring works from artists that he had a personal acquaintance with, most notably in the case of Whistler. Vanderbilt acted as a patron for Whistler, supporting his work and demonstrating a great respect for him as an artist. He even acted as a pall-bearer at Whistler’s funeral.

*The Manet paintings are no longer in Biltmore’s collection as they were donated to the National Gallery in Edith Vanderbilt’s will.

Fast Fact #8: Curious correspondence

Monet & Friends exhibition at Biltmore
Monet’s extraordinary gardens surround you during Monet & Friends, created and produced by Grande Experiences

We have letters in our archives from Claude Monet regarding a visit that George and Edith Vanderbilt were hoping to make to him in 1904. We don’t know if the visit ultimately happened, but either way they indicate a certain level of acquaintance between the Vanderbilts and Monet beyond just collectors.

We also have correspondence indicating that the Vanderbilts were acquainted with Impressionist painter Mary Cassatt, and that she had been planning to paint portraits of Edith and Cornelia Vanderbilt, but was prevented from doing so by illness.

Leonardo da Vinci -- 500 Years of Genius
From July 14, 2022–January 8, 2023, immerse yourself in the multi-sensory experience of “Leonardo da Vinci — 500 Years of Genius” at Biltmore

Fast Fact #9: Discover Da Vinci, July 14, 2022–January 8, 2023

Following the conclusion of Monet & Friends, our Legends of Art & Innovation at Biltmore series will conclude with Leonardo da Vinci – 500 Years of Genius, from July 14, 2022–January 8, 2023.

Inventor, artist, scientist, engineer, sculptor, anatomist, musician, architect, philosopher—Da Vinci was all of these things. His brilliance and many extraordinary achievements are brought to vivid life in the world’s most comprehensive and thrilling Leonardo da Vinci experience, created and produced by Grande Experiences.

Fast Fact #10: Old Masters and modern favorites

Reproduction of Rembrandt etching for the Oak Sitting Room in Biltmore House
Reproduction from the Morgan Library of a Rembrandt etching for the Oak Sitting Room

George Vanderbilt’s collection included an interesting combination of Old Masters and more modern artists like the Impressionists mentioned above. The two Old Masters he favored were Rembrandt and Dürer, though his interest did not stop there. His collection includes two prints made after Da Vinci paintings, including The Last Supper and a self-portrait.

Vanderbilt’s book collection includes several books about Da Vinci, including Leonardo da Vinci: the Florentine years of Leonardo & Verrocchio (1913) which is in the Biltmore House Library.

Don’t miss our Legends of Art & Innovation at Biltmore series!

There’s still time to immerse yourself in Van Gogh Alive before it ends on March 5, 2022. Tickets are on sale now for Monet & Friends, and will be available soon for Leonardo da Vinci — 500 Years of Genius.

All three multisensory exhibitions are created and produced by Grand Experiences and hosted at Amherst at Deerpark® on the grounds of the estate.

New Exhibition Explores Construction of Biltmore House

Our new Building Biltmore House exhibition explores the construction of George Vanderbilt’s magnificent home—a massive project that took hundreds of workers seven years to complete.

A new take on our construction story

“For nearly two decades, we displayed photographs and stories about the construction of Biltmore House in the Basement area known as the Halloween Room. It was a favorite of our guests, but we removed the panels in 2019 to make room for components of a different exhibition,” said Meghan Forest, Archives and Curatorial Assistant.

According to Meghan, the new Building Biltmore House exhibition, also located in the Halloween Room, will uncover additional in-depth information about the people, circumstances, and innovations surrounding the building of America’s Largest Home®.

“One important goal of the new exhibition is to focus more on the craftsmanship and labor of the employees who worked on the project rather than just the construction techniques,” noted Meghan. “Through continuing research in our own archives and outreach to descendants of some of the original workers, we’re able to share new stories that add depth and context to Building Biltmore House.”

Discovering personal connections

In the course of the archival research for this exhibition, Biltmore worked closely with Dr. Darin Waters who serves as North Carolina Deputy Secretary for Archives and History in the Office of Archives and History for the NC Department of Natural and Cultural Resources.

His personal connection with Biltmore dates back more than two decades, and his ancestors’ history with the estate dates back more than a century, presenting a thematic through-line for his own life story. Guests will learn more about Dr. Waters’ research and family discoveries as they take in the details of Building Biltmore House.

Design dream team

(L-R) purchasing agent and agricultural consultant Edward Burnett, architect Richard Morris Hunt, landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted, George Washington Vanderbilt, and architect Richard Howland Hunt, son of Richard Morris Hunt. 1892

In 1889, 26-year-old George Vanderbilt recruited two of the nation’s most sought-after design professionals, architect Richard Morris Hunt, and landscape designer Frederick Law Olmsted, to assist him in building a grand estate that would serve as a scenic retreat for the young man’s family and friends.

Both Hunt and Olmsted had been instrumental in shaping the look of late-19th-century New York, with Hunt having designed the Statue of Liberty pedestal and the Great Hall of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and Olmsted creating the tranquil greenspace of Central Park and advocating for the preservation of Niagara Falls State Park.

Planning and inspiration

Sketch of Biltmore House
Archival sketch of Biltmore House façade, drafted prior to construction, does not include the glass-roofed Winter Garden that was added as plans were finalized

Having purchased a total of 125,000 acres since his first visit to Asheville in 1888, Vanderbilt charged Olmsted with choosing the site of his future country home along with designing the manicured gardens and grounds that would rehabilitate the acreage’s former farms and cutover woodlands.

Vanderbilt, Hunt, and Hunt’s wife Catharine then embarked on a two-month trip across England and France to gather ideas. The journey proved a success, as Hunt eventually designed a 175,000-square-foot French Renaissance Revival-style château influenced by the exteriors of France’s Blois, Chambord, and Chenonceau estates, and the interiors of Knole Palace, Hatfield House, and Haddon Hall in England.

Vanderbilt named his estate “Biltmore” for Bildt, the Dutch town of his ancestry, and the old English word “more” meaning open, rolling land.

Building Biltmore House

Building Biltmore House
George Vanderbilt escorts a group of guests on the South Terrace during contruction. 1893

When construction began hundreds of workers and tradesmen arrived daily to perform general labor as well as blacksmithing, painting, carpentry, and stone carving. While many materials such as bricks and stone were sourced locally, others were imported from across the country and overseas.

Men, materials, and supplies arrived at the construction area on standard gauge rail lines supported by trestles designed by Olmsted to span the mountainous terrain without damaging the forests below. The construction site became a bustling city of its own, with workers occupying temporarily built offices, workshops, and sheds.

Biltmore House comes to life

Watch archival footage of George Vanderbilt’s magnificent estate “rising” from its foundations!

Month by month, George Vanderbilt’s vision took shape as Biltmore House rose from its foundation. The home consisted of 250 rooms, including 101 guest and servant bedrooms, 65 fireplaces, and 43 bathrooms.

Luxurious, state-of-the-art conveniences like indoor plumbing and electricity were included in the house, along with a fire alarm system, two elevators, and a telephone system. A bowling alley, gymnasium, and 70,000-gallon indoor swimming pool were built to provide entertainment and exercise during inclement weather.

The end of a long journey

Archival photo of a marble lion statue at Biltmore
One of two iconic lion sculptures, crafted from Rosso di’Verona marble, await installation at Biltmore House. March 1894

As with any significant undertaking, one must aim for a deadline, and George Vanderbilt declared December 24, 1895, as the date that his labor of love would be unveiled.

Final touches on the landscaping took place, the makeshift workshops on the property were disassembled, and cabinetmakers and carpenters hastened to finish the endless custom details within the home. Although several areas including the Library and his own bedroom were still incomplete, George Vanderbilt welcomed his mother and 26 other relatives to celebrate Christmas Eve in his new home.

Experience Building Biltmore House and more

“Beginning February 4, 2022, we invite all of our guests to visit our new Building Biltmore House exhibition located in the Halloween Room to learn about the inspiring individuals who came together during the construction of Biltmore House and its surrounding gardens and grounds,” said Meghan.

8 great reasons to visit Biltmore this fall
In addition to enjoying our Building Biltmore House exhibition, enhance your visit with a Rooftop Tour that includes spectacular views and stories.

This new exhibition is included with regular estate admission and is part of the normal self-guided visit route.

To experience more fascinating behind-the-scenes stories of this Gilded Age estate, consider reserving a Rooftop Tour or Expert-Guided Small Group Tour.

Featured image: Visible through a third floor window faced with decorative limestone veneer above the Porte Cochere are the brick walls and iron joists that provide structure for Biltmore House, ca. 1893

Plan a Romantic Date at Biltmore

Biltmore is the perfect place to plan a romantic date, especially when Valentine’s Day is right around the corner.

Whether you’re looking for a day of special activities or a long weekend getaway, winter is a wonderful time to visit the estate. From the magnificence of America’s Largest Home® to special packages at both of our distinctive hotels, we’ve compiled a list of six sensational ideas for planning your romantic date at Biltmore. 

1. Share a sweet treat with someone special

Coffee and pastries from The Bake Shop at Biltmore are perfect for your romantic date
Indulge in a sweet treat from The Bake Shop during your romantic date at Biltmore!

Enjoy fresh–baked pastries and baked goods, excellent espresso, gourmet coffees, and herbal teas from The Bake Shop located in the Stable Courtyard next to Biltmore House. Before or after your self-guided house visit, this is a perfect way to warm up winter’s chill.

Romantic date tip: While you’re in the neighborhood, take time to visit the collection of gift shops located inside the Stables–you’re sure to find a charming memento of your time together!

2. Escape to the tropics!

Practice mindfulness in the peaceful Conservatory
Wander among tropical treasures in Biltmore’s Conservatory

Indoor enchantment awaits in Biltmore’s Conservatory. Possibly one of the warmest spots in North Carolina’s mountains during winter, the Conservatory is filled with thousands of exotic plants, including an expansive orchid display at its showiest peak in the peaceful winter months.

Romantic date tip: Be sure to snuggle up for a selfie together with a lush back drop of tropical treasures!

3. Discover the Vanderbilts’ love story

George and Edith Vanderbilt at buckspring Lodge
George and Edith Vanderbilt sitting on the front steps of Buckspring Lodge, their rustic retreat on Mt. Pisgah

The Vanderbilts at Home and Abroad exhibition highlights the Transatlantic courtship and wedding of George and Edith Vanderbilt with archival letters, personal items and exotic treasures they collected during their world travels. The exhibition is located at The Biltmore Legacy in Antler Hill Village, just steps away from the Winery.

Romantic date tip: After learning more about the Vanderbilts, take time for a sweet treat or light bite from the nearby Creamery.

4. Warm up at the Winery

Red Wine & Chocolate Tasting for a romantic date
A match made in heaven–red wine and chocolate!

As soon as you arrive at our Winery, make a reservation for your complimentary wine tasting to savor a variety of our award-winning Biltmore wines. To make your romantic date truly memorable, enjoy a specialty wine experience like our Red Wine and Chocolate Tasting together!

Romantic date tip: Bubbles make everything better, so indulge in a glass (or a bottle!) of our refreshing Biltmore Estate® Blanc de Blancs or our pretty-in-pink Biltmore Estate® Blanc de Noir sparkling wine!

5. Let your romantic date take flight

Falconry is a Top 5 Winter activity at Biltmore
Explore the thrilling art of falconry at Biltmore

Our 8,000-acre backyard provides natural habitat for a variety of beautiful birds this time of year. Meet them, explore their habits, and learn about their environments with engaging, informative activities that invite you to expand your Biltmore knowledge in a new way. Feathered Friends, Waterfowl Habits, and Guided Bird Walks offer a great way to spend time outdoors with someone special.

Romantic date tip: Let your hearts soar as you discover the ancient art of Falconry together!

6. Immerse yourself in Van Gogh Alive

Van Gogh Alive exhibition
Explore our Van Gogh Alive exhibition now–March 5, 2022

This multi-sensory exhibition is a powerful and vibrant symphony of light, color, sound, and scent that compels you to leave the world behind and immerse yourself in Van Gogh’s paintings. Simultaneously enchanting, entertaining, and educational, Van Gogh Alive, created by Grande Experiences, stimulates all the senses and opens the mind.

Romantic date tip: Hold hands throughout this experience and “read” your partner’s thoughts through the contact.

Plan your romantic date at Biltmore now!

Couple on a romantic date at Biltmore
Plan your romantic getaway at Biltmore this winter

Join us during Winter at Biltmore for a romantic date, or simply enjoy spending time together with family and friends. We look forward to making you welcome!

Practice Mindfulness At Biltmore This Winter

When you practice mindfulness at Biltmore this winter with a range of relaxing activities that help promote a sense of well-being, you’ll be tapping into a rich history of self-care.

Guests on Vanderbilt train
Vanderbilt Party near Biltmore Station, December 22, 1895. Among those pictures on flatbed railroad car in Biltmore Village are George Vanderbilt’s sister Margaret Vanderbilt Shepard (standing behind trunk), George Vanderbilt standing on right, George’s mother Mrs. William H. Vanderbilt, seated in front of him. Other individuals are likely relatives from George’s mother’s side of the family.

“When Asheville became accessible by rail in the late 1800s, the area quickly gained a reputation as a place of respite and relaxation,” said Leslie Klingner, Curator of Interpretation.

George Vanderbilt accompanied his mother, Maria Louisa Kissam Vanderbilt, who had been advised by her doctor to visit the area. Both enjoyed the crisp, clear mountain air that George described as ‘mild and invigorating,’ and he began to envision a haven where he and his family and friends could all experience the healthful benefits of Western North Carolina,” Leslie explained.

Today, self-care remains at the heart of everything we do at Biltmore. During your next visit, indulge in our wide range of mindful activities infused with our beautiful surroundings, and make this your best year yet.

Slow down for serenity

Woman practicing mindfulness with yoga
Practice mindfulness with a relaxing yoga session

In order to ponder your future, you must take time to reflect on your past, and being solidly connected to the present moment allows you to do both.

Restore your equilibrium with a rejuvenating 8:30 a.m. Morning Yoga session that will gently stretch your body and awaken your mind.

Mid-morning, take a guided tour of Biltmore’s beautiful grounds to learn the history behind the ancient mandala, and use forest floor “ingredients” to make your own Nature Mandala. That afternoon, return to the outdoors for a peacefully intentional Mindfulness Walk, where your guide will gently prompt awareness of your tranquil surroundings.

Let mindfulness take flight

Falconry is a Top 5 Winter activity at Biltmore
Explore the thrilling art of falconry at Biltmore

Observing the freedom of feathered creatures in their natural winter habitat offers peaceful reflection on the beauty and meaning of life.

Allow our trained guides to help you appreciate the depth and breadth of the bird population at Biltmore on our Guided Bird Walks as you observe cardinals, woodpeckers, and bobwhites around the property.

Refine your knowledge of ornithology through a Waterfowl Habitats Tour, where you’ll linger at our Bass Pond, Lagoon, and Long Valley Lake to spy a variety of ducks, geese, and occasionally a great blue heron.

For the ultimate in wildlife interaction, participate in a Falconry session and learn how to handle a trained hawk or falcon, getting an eye-to-eye view with the magnificent bird as it alights upon your gloved arm.

Bring well-being to life

Practice mindfulness in the peaceful Conservatory
Wander among tropical treasures in Biltmore’s Conservatory

Whether you decide to try any of the above experiences for a refreshing recharge, or prefer more traditional outdoor pursuits such as hiking, walking, or biking, Biltmore’s 8,000 acres can accommodate your desires.

When your self-care prescription calls for indoor interests, enjoy a stroll through America’s Largest Home®, lose yourself in the tropical grandeur and exotic plantings in our glass-topped Conservatory, indulge in culinary delights at our restaurants, or make a reservation to taste award-winning favorites at the Winery.

You can even indulge in a bit of relaxing retail therapy at more than a dozen estate shops or discover the online convenience of biltmoreshop.com. No matter what you need, Biltmore provides mindful activities for every taste.

Practice mindfulness at Biltmore

Woman with her hair in a towel by the window
Practice mindfulness during your Biltmore winter getaway at one of our distinctive hotels or private historic cottages

Spending an afternoon, a day, or a long weekend at Biltmore gives you the perfect opportunity to hit the pause button on life and renew your body, mind, and spirit. This winter, treat yourself with time at Biltmore, and engage in mindful activities and spa treatments* that will help you embrace each and every moment of the new year.

*To access services at The Spa, located inside The Inn on Biltmore Estate®, you must be an overnight guest on the property or an Annual Passholder.

Stocking, Storing, And Savoring Biltmore Wines

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

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

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

1. Evaluate your storage options

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

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

2. Consider your lifestyle

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

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

3. Try different wines

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

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

4. Plan ahead

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

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

Biltmore’s winter wine recommendations

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

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

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

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

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

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

Savor Biltmore wines now

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

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

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

*Whether you are a Biltmore Annual Passholder or daytime guest, make required Tasting Room reservations in person at the Winery on the day of your visit, or ask our staff for more information on wines that interest you.

Taste Passion And Perseverance In This Chardonnay!

“You’ll taste our passion for perseverance in this new Biltmore® Reserve Chardonnay North Carolina 2020 Barrel Select wine,” said Sharon Fenchak, Biltmore winemaker.

From grape to glass

Workers pick Chardonnay grapes in Biltmore's vineyard
Vineyard crews picking grapes by hand in Biltmore’s vineyard on the west side of the estate

“The grapes for this smooth, buttery Chardonnay were carefully nurtured by Philip Oglesby, Vineyard Supervisor, and his crew,” Sharon said. “From planting and tending the vines to caring for them throughout the growing season and harvesting the grapes by hand in late September and early October, the vineyard team ensured that we had the best possible fruit to begin this project.”

Biltmore-grown barrels

Biltmore wine barrels for Chardonnay
These barrels are coopered for the Winery from Biltmore-grown oak

According to Sharon, the grapes aren’t the only part of this wine that represents the estate.

“Once this medium-bodied golden Chardonnay was ready to be fermented and aged, we transferred it into a group of very special barrels,” said Sharon.

For the first time in the estate’s winemaking history, wood from oak trees that were grown on the estate was shipped to Seguin Moreau, an artisan barrel-making firm. Now anchored in Napa, California, the company originated in France in 1838 and continues to provide high-quality barrels to the wine industry today.

Chardonnay tasting notes and pairings

“It is remarkable to have Biltmore-grown oak coopered into custom barrels for aging our own Chardonnay,” Sharon said. Now, in addition to having our grapes reflect our Blue Ridge Mountain terroir, the very barrels we use for aging also echo the unique characteristics of weather and soil found here.”

After aging for 12 months in Biltmore oak barrels, this Chardonnay developed a delightful nose of caramel, coffee, and grilled pineapple, plus pleasant hints of oak that continue on the palate along with flavors of Meyer lemon, vanilla, and kiwi ahead of a lingering finish of honey and spice.

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

To further enhance the rich notes of this exceptional Chardonnay, Sharon suggests warming it slightly to around 60 degrees, then gathering friends together to savor a glass with a grazing platter featuring blue cheese drizzled with local honey, pistachios, and smoked trout dip.

Other excellent pairings include seafood cioppino, Caribbean-style red snapper, and mussels with a butter-and-garlic sauce and plenty of toasted baguettes for dipping.

Passion and perseverance

Bottles of Biltmore Reserve Chardonnay sitting on a barrel
The label for this distinctive Chardonnay features an original watercolor painting of Biltmore’s vineyard

Sharon and the wine production team have called Biltmore® Reserve Chardonnay North Carolina 2020 Barrel Select wine “the taste of 2020 in a glass.”

“That’s not a negative attribute,” Sharon noted. “It really refers to the fact that 2020 was a challenging year in many ways, but even so, we poured our passion, determination, and perseverance into this wine, and we see it as a tribute to North Carolina grape growing.”

For the label, Lisa Vogel, Art Director, painted an original watercolor to distinguish this one-of-a-kind wine.

“I chose to include an iconic oak tree in the estate’s vineyard,” said Lisa, “as a visual way to represent the grapes and the barrels that earned this outstanding wine our exclusive Biltmore® Reserve Barrel Select designation.”

Join the Vanderbilt Wine Club® now to experience this Chardonnay

Vanderbilt Wine Club shipment
As a Vanderbilt Wine Club member, you’ll receive a shipment of Biltmore wines each season, plus access to exclusive vintages, events, and more

This wine will be released exclusively to our Vanderbilt Wine Club® members. Explore membership options at the Winery or online, and stock up on your favorite Biltmore wines at biltmoreshop.com.

Taste The Terroir Of Biltmore Wines

When you taste the terroir of Biltmore wines, you’re tasting some of the oldest terroir in the world in the heart of the Appalachian Mountains. Terroir refers to the complete natural environment in which the grapes for wine are grown and in which the wines themselves are produced and aged. It includes factors such as the soil, topography, and climate.

Long established among European winegrowers, the concept of terroir is becoming more important in the U.S. and other nations.

Interestingly, there is no exact translation of terroir from its French language origins—it loosely means “a sense of place,” and can be as broad as an entire region or as narrow as a few rows in a specific vineyard.

What is the terroir of Biltmore wines?

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

Biltmore’s acreage—including the vineyard—is classified as a Low and Intermediate Mountain System between 1,400–4,600 feet above sea level with soil influenced by elevation, slope aspect, exposure, and vegetation. As part of the ancient Appalachian Mountain chain that formed 480 billion years ago, the Blue Ridge Mountains feature lower elevations and a soft, weathered appearance that shows much they’ve worn away over the years.

When George Vanderbilt’s grandson William A.V. Cecil envisioned developing an estate vineyard and winery, he felt it should be possible to grow grapes at Biltmore.

In his book Lady on the Hill, Cecil wrote that “Asheville was about the same latitude as Gibraltar in the Mediterranean, and with an altitude between 2,100 and 2,500 feet, the fields of the estate would enjoy warm days and cool nights in the summer.”

West coast advantages

California partner vineyard
Partner vineyards in California

Unlike the conditions of the Mediterranean and other classic grape-growing regions, however, the climate of Western North Carolina is notoriously unpredictable, averaging 47 inches of rain per year—more than twice the average amount that falls in Napa Valley.

In addition to a drier climate, California growers have another advantage when it comes to terroir: the geologic age of the area is much “younger” than that of the east coast. Wine grapes typically fare better in lower-nutrient, more alkaline soils preferably with gravelly or rocky substrates.

The idea is that the plants’ roots will grow deeper in such circumstances to seek nutrients and water, allowing the plant and eventually the fruit to express the unique characteristics of the specific location that the grower has chosen.

“Our west coast vineyard partners like those in Cienega Valley have the benefits of a maritime climate and rocky soils that create more intensity and richness in the grapes,” said Jill Whitfield, Senior Wine Manager. “They may have lower yields there, but flavors develop more fully.”

Climate affects terroir

Picking red grapes at Biltmore
Grapes being picked by hand in Biltmore’s vineyard

“Soil and climate have significant impact on grape quality, but climate is the more important factor at Biltmore,” said Philip Oglesby, Vineyard Supervisor. Grapes can be more reactive to certain weather conditions than some crops, but when the weather is right in Western North Carolina, the fruit produced in our vineyards is exceptional.”

Try any of our Biltmore Reserve wines, such as Biltmore Reserve® Cabernet Sauvignon North Carolina, handcrafted from estate-grown grapes, and you’ll taste not only the character of the varietal, but the distinctive influence of our unique Blue Ridge Mountain terroir.

Fun Fact

The state soil of North Carolina is known as Cecil soil. Named for Cecil County, Maryland where the soil type was first documented rather than the family name of George Vanderbilt’s descendants, it is nonetheless a delightful coincidence that Biltmore’s vineyard and Winery are rooted in Cecil soil!

Purchase Biltmore® Reserve wines now and taste the terroir!

Bottles of Biltmore Reserve Rose North Carolina wine
Only wines handcrafted from estate-grown grapes earn our Biltmore® Reserve label

Find Biltmore wines, including Biltmore® Reserve wines, in estate shops and online.

Celebrate Biltmore’s Tree-Raising Tradition Virtually

This year, Biltmore invites you once again to join us online to celebrate our tree-raising tradition virtually!

“One of our most beloved Christmas at Biltmore traditions is raising and decorating the grand Banquet Hall tree,” said Lizzie Borchers, Floral Manager.

Man in Biltmore hat helps raise the Banquet Hall Christmas tree
Wade Ledford, a retired member of Biltmore’s Engineering Services team, enjoys returning each year to help raise the Banquet Hall Christmas tree

“George Vanderbilt first welcomed friends and family to Biltmore House on Christmas Eve 1895,” Lizzie said, “so we want to celebrate by sharing a closer look at the process, including many behind-the-scenes details.”

Experience this year’s tree raising virtually

With the health and safety of our guests and employees in mind, we’ve created a Christmas mini-documentary to give you an exciting virtual view of this 35-foot Fraser fir’s journey to become the seasonal centerpiece in America’s Largest Home®.

Celebrating Christmas at Biltmore

Christmas decorations on the mantel in the Music Room of Biltmore House
The Music Room is transformed by Floral Designer Cristy Leonard’s interpretation of the carol “We Three Kings”

Biltmore’s Floral Displays team developed a special “Christmas Carol” theme, using an array of traditional seasonal songs that were as popular in the last century as they are today, to create the décor in America’s Largest Home.

The Vestibule, Entry Hall, and Winter Garden feature inspiration from Deck the Halls because the words “boughs of holly” reflect George Vanderbilt’s request for “barrels of mistletoe and wagonloads of holly” to decorate his new home.

Sheet music decoration on Christmas tree
This year’s decorating theme in Biltmore House is “Christmas Carols,” so look for ornamental details like sheet music and instruments

“Look for the traditional reds and greens of the season as you enter,” said Floral Designer Lesley Tobar. “And be inspired to deck your own halls!”

Star of the show

For 2021, the Floral team once again used an enormous eight-pointed Bethlehem star, custom built by Jason Pleva, a member of Biltmore’s carpentry team, as the decorative topper for the 35-foot-tall Banquet Hall Christmas tree.

Christmas tree topper
Lucinda Ledford (right) and her teammates adjust the 8-pointed golden star atop Biltmore’s largest Christmas tree

“I chose The 12 Days of Christmas as inspiration for interpreting the Banquet Hall,” said Lucinda Ledford, Floral Designer. “In addition to traditional Christmas colors of red and green, I included shades of gold,” Lucinda noted, “so the beautiful golden star was a perfect complement for the tree.”

Golden wreaths above the Banquet Hall fireplace
Inspired by “The 12 Days of Christmas,” Lucinda placed five golden wreaths on the mantel

“The Banquet Hall features other details from the beloved carol, like these five golden ring-like wreaths on the fireplace mantel,” said Lucinda.

Make it jolly

Biltmore House Library mantel hung with stockings
Cheerful stockings and fringed swags on the mantel lighten the formal tone of the Library this holiday season

Biltmore Floral team member Don Holloway chose the Christmas décor in the Library with inspiration from Jolly Old St. Nicholas, a lively carol that always sets a cheerful mood.

“I chose classic reds, greens, and golds for this room that displays about half of the 23,000 books that George Vanderbilt collected,” said Don, “but I also allowed the playfulness of the song to shine through, lightening the formal tone of the Library.”

Suggestions of stained glass

The Oak Sitting Room, decorated for the holidays in Biltmore House
Translucent jewel-tone ornaments suggest stained glass and complement the vivid tones of the Oak Sitting Room

Inspired by the carol O Holy Night, Kyla Dana, Floral Supervisor, selected jewel-toned decorations to complement the rich, vibrant colors of the recently restored Oak Sitting Room.

“The worshipful tone of that song led me to think about All Souls Cathedral in Biltmore Village, which has many ties to the Vanderbilt family. The translucent ornaments I chose for the Oak Sitting Room represent the stained glass windows in the church.”

Magnificent details

Hanging Christmas lights on the Banquet Hall tree in Biltmore House
Once the Banquet Hall tree is in place, strings of lights are added with help from team members in the Organ Loft

“These are just a few of the magnificent details we’ll have ready for you,” said Lizzie. “So whether you’re able to visit in person or simply enjoy seeing our updates on Facebook and Instagram, Christmas at Biltmore and Candlelight Christmas Evenings add a lot of excitement to the holiday season.”

Virtual entertaining ideas

Three friends in front of a Christmas tree with Biltmore wines and charcuterie
Whether you’re gathering with friends or hosting a virtual celebration, Biltmore has plenty of holiday hospitality inspiration!

In addition to our virtual tree-raising event, we’ve also created a special video to help you host a virtual wine tasting at home. To make it even easier, select our Virtual Wine Tasting Set featuring each of the wines from the video.

Our Biltmore Tree Raising Wine Trio makes a great gift
Savor the delights of our 2021 Tree Raising Wine Trio

We’re also offering a Tree-Raising Wine Trio to help you celebrate our virtual event (or your own tree raising festivities), plus our 2021 Seasoned with Cheer holiday hospitality guide filled with inspirational ideas for perfect pairings, gracious gatherings, and gift-giving suggestions to make the season even more merry.

Pair Biltmore Wine with Cookies for Holiday Cheer

‘Tis the season to pair Biltmore wine with your favorite cookies to create plenty of holiday cheer!

Pairing wine and cookies

“Whether you’re baking at home, participating in a neighborhood cookie swap, or sending sweets to someone far away, our wine and cookie pairing ideas are the perfect way to pour on the cheer this holiday season,” said Courtney Miller, Vanderbilt Wine Club® Manager.

Bottles of Biltmore wine, cookies, and other foods
Pour on the cheer by pairing Biltmore wines with cookies this holiday season

In the recipes below, we’ve paired each cookie with Biltmore wine to make it even easier to match the distinctive flavors with wines that complements them.

“Go ahead and sweeten the season by purchasing Biltmore wines,” advised Courtney, “then bake some cookies, or snag similar styles from your local bakery; we won’t tell!”

Pour on the holiday cheer

According to Courtney, you generally choose a wine that’s a little sweeter than the treat with which you plan to pair it, but richer, heavier sweets can stand up to dryer wines.

“Either way, you’ll be ready to savor a sophisticated treat for the holidays,” Courtney said. “And if you upgrade Santa’s usual glass of milk to a glass of Biltmore wine, I’m pretty sure he’ll add you to his ‘nice’ list!”


Gingersnap cookies paired with Biltmore Estate Riesling
Spice up your holiday wine and cookie pairings by serving Honey Gingersnaps with Biltmore Estate® Riesling!

Honey Gingersnap Cookies

Heidi Badger, Pastry Sous Chef at Cedric’s® Tavern, developed this recipe. “These honey gingersnaps are soft, tender, and nicely spiced, especially if you use freshly grated ginger. The honey flavor is very subtle,” said Heidi.

Chef Heidi recommends serving these traditional holiday favorites with lightly sweet wines such as our delightful Biltmore Estate® Riesling.

Yield: approximately 3 dozen cookies
Preparation Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 1½-2 hours (includes 1-hour chill time)

Ingredients
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
½ cup sugar
½ cup honey
1 large egg
2 cups flour
2 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground ginger or freshly grated ginger
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cloves

Method
In a large bowl, cream together butter, sugar, and honey until fluffy. Mix in egg and set aside.

In a separate bowl, sift or whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, and spices. Stir into wet ingredients until combined.

Chill dough for 1 hour or until slightly firm.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Roll dough into 1-inch balls and place onto parchment-lined cookie sheet, spacing about 2 inches apart.

Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until lightly browned around the edges. Allow to cool for 2 minutes on the cookie sheet before transferring to a wire rack to finish cooling.


Biltmore Estate Limited Release Petite Sirah paired with holiday cookies
Crispy on the outside, soft on the inside–these chocolate cookies pair perfectly with our Biltmore Estate® Limited Release Petite Sirah

Flourless Fudgy Chocolate Mudslide Cookies

“These cookies have a rich, intense chocolate flavor, especially when enhanced by the coffee liqueur,” said Angie Chan, Pastry Chef, Deerpark/Amherst/Lioncrest/Biltmore Catering. “They feature a crispy outer shell that reminds me of meringue and a fudgy, soft interior. Because the recipe is already flourless, the cookies can be made gluten free.”

For a match made in heaven, Chef Angie suggests pairing these rich chocolate cookies with red wines like our Biltmore Estate® Limited Release Petite Sirah.

Yield: approximately 2 dozen cookies
Preparation Time: about 15 minutes
Total Time: about 2 hours (includes 1-hour chill time)

Ingredients
1 cup chocolate chips
1 cup cocoa powder
3 egg whites
3 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons coffee liqueur or coffee syrup*
1–2 tablespoons milk

*Coffee syrup: dissolve 2 teaspoons instant coffee or espresso powder with 1/3 cup sugar in 1/3 cup hot water. Allow to cool and use the same amount noted in the recipe.

Method
In a large bowl, whisk together powdered sugar and cocoa powder. In a separate bowl, whisk together egg whites, coffee liqueur, and vanilla extract until lightly foamy. Combine wet and dry mixtures and stir until well mixed. Dough will be very thick and sticky once it comes together. Add 1-2 tablespoons of milk to help with mixing, if needed.

Add in the chocolate chips and refrigerate the dough for about 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and coat with a thin layer of non-stick vegetable oil spray to prevent sticking.

Scoop 1 tablespoon worth of dough and place onto prepared cookie sheet, spacing about 2 inches apart.

Bake for 12–15 minutes, or until the top is slightly cracked and dry. Allow to cool for 2 minutes on the cookie sheet before transferring to a wire rack to finish cooling.


Lemon-Cranberry Shortbread Cookies

Biltmore Estate Limited Release Orange Muscat wine paired with Lemon-Cranberry Shortbread cookies
Pair these citrus-and-cranberry-kissed shortbread cookies with our lightly sweet Biltmore Estate® Limited Release Orange Muscat

For an updated version of a classic treat, Chef Angie also created Lemon-Cranberry Shortbread Cookies with bright hints of citrus and the tart tang of cranberries.

“There’s nothing more perfect for the holidays than shortbread cookie like this with fresh flavors to lighten the richness of the recipe,” Chef Angie said. “In addition, they pair perfectly with the hints of tropical fruit in our lightly sweet Biltmore Estate® Limited Release Orange Muscat.

Yield: about 2 dozen
Preparation Time: about 15 minutes
Total Time: about 2 hours (includes 1-hour chill time)

Ingredients
1¾ cup all-purpose flour
2/3 cup granulated sugar
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
2 teaspoons lemon extract (or fresh-squeezed lemon juice as substitute)
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 tablespoons milk
1 tablespoon lemon zest
½ cup dried cranberries
¼ teaspoon salt

Method
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large mixing bowl, cream the sugar, butter, and lemon extract together until light and fluffy.

Add flour, baking soda, and salt and stir until just combined. Add lemon zest and milk, mix well. Gently fold in the dried cranberries. Mixture will be crumbly.

Work dough by hand into a ball and then roll into a log about 2-3 inches thick. Wrap with parchment or plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.

Once dough is chilled and firm, use a sharp knife to carefully slice dough into about ½-inch pieces and place onto parchment-lined cookie sheet, spacing about 1 inch apart.

Bake for approximately 11-12 minutes or until lightly golden around the edges. Allow to cool for 2 minutes on the cookie sheet before transferring to a wire rack to finish cooling.


Enjoy Biltmore wines this holiday season!

Biltmore wines and cookies
Enjoy perfect pairings with Biltmore wine and cookies this holiday season

Whether you’re pairing them with cookies, entertaining friends, or simply enjoying a peaceful glass by a crackling fire, you’ll find all our award-winning Biltmore wines in our estate shops, online, and close to home with our Retail Locator.

For a special gift for yourself and others, consider joining our Vanderbilt Wine Club®. You’ll enjoy hand-selected Biltmore wines delivered to your door each season, plus all the other privileges membership brings.


Our Sparkling Wines Make New Year’s Shine!

Biltmore sparkling wines make New Year’s shine–and they’re perfect for any other holiday or special occasion!

Sparkling wines with cake and macarons
Add Biltmore sparkling wines to all your holiday and New Year’s celebrations

“George and Edith Vanderbilt were known for their hospitality,” said Heather Jordan, Director of Wine Marketing. “And when it came to their holiday and New Year’s celebrations, they made sure to add even more sparkle, so to speak, for their guests to enjoy while visiting Biltmore.”

We love to carry on Vanderbilt family traditions—and create new ones—by adding our sparkling wines to New Year’s celebrations along with favorite red, white, and rosé selections from our estate Winery.

Here are Heather’s helpful tips for serving and pairing sparkling wines:

Serve sparkling wines like a pro

Pouring Biltmore sparkling wine into a glass
Biltmore sparkling wines are characterized by fine, tiny bubbles
  • Sparkling wines are best served at 33-40 degrees.
  • Chill the bottle in the refrigerator prior to opening. The cold temperature helps preserve the bubbles when opening the bottle.
  • To open sparkling wine, hold the bottle at a 45-degree angle. Loosen the cage and hold the cork. Gently twist the cork until you hear a whisper of a pop.
  • Holding a towel over the cork when opening will help catch any spills that may occur.
  • After opening, all sparkling wines begin to lose their bubbles, so it’s best to drink them as soon as possible.

Biltmore bubbles add sparkle to any occasion

Keep plenty of Biltmore bubbles on hand to help season the holiday with cheer!

From easy appetizers and classic cocktails to decadent desserts, add extra sparkle to your New Year’s celebrations with the exceptional handcrafted bubbles of Biltmore sparkling wines!

  • Biltmore Estate® Blanc de Blancs: Good acidity and balance are complemented by hints of green apple and pear.
    • Pairing suggestions: oysters on the half shell, crab, scallops, smoked trout, soft cheeses
  • Biltmore Estate® Brut: This refreshing blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir offers a good balance of strawberry and key lime flavors.
    • Pairing suggestions: eggs Benedict, caviar, sashimi, scallops
    • Classic cocktail to toast the New Year: French Rose 75
  • Pas de Deux® Sec: Semi-sweet and bursting with tiny bubbles, this aromatic wine features the essence of orange blossom and flavors of wild strawberry and lemon.
    • Pairing suggestions: fresh fruit, chocolate-covered strawberries, crème brulee, pumpkin pie
    • Decadent dessert to start the year off right: Praline Pumpkin Pie

Stock up on sparkling wines now for your New Year’s celebrations

Staff favorites: Biltmore wine and gourmet food in a basket
Surprise someone special with a gift basket filled with Biltmore sparkling wine, gourmet food, and other goodies

Just in time for New Year’s toasts and midnight munching, stock up on all your favorite Biltmore wines and gourmet foods in estate shops and online.