Asheville Artist Reproduces Biltmore Sculpture

Asheville artist Alex Irvine has reproduced a Biltmore sculpture, and we couldn’t be more pleased with the wonderful results!

Biltmore sculpture removed for preservation

Known as Woman Reading with Dog, this charming depiction of a young woman reading a book with her canine companion at her knees was originally installed on the Library Terrace at Biltmore House.

Asheville artist reproduces Biltmore sculpture
Artist Alex Irvine worked from the original Biltmore sculpture in his Asheville-area studio to create two new versions for display at the estate.

Like many of the other sculptures found throughout Biltmore’s historic gardens, Woman Reading with Dog was French in origin. It was produced by Gossin Frères of Paris, a firm well known for their ornamental terra cotta fabrications.

After many years of exposure to the elements, Biltmore’s original sculpture had become unstable due to heavy deterioration, and was removed from the Library Terrace for preservation purposes.

Asheville artist commissioned to create new Biltmore sculpture

“We commissioned a replica from Asheville artist Alex Irvine after he worked with Biltmore’s conservation team on a project that involved recreating a missing arm and floral garland for a terra cotta sculpture located on the South Terrace of Biltmore House,” said Kara Warren, Preventive Conservation Specialist. “We’re fortunate to have the opportunity to work with such an exceptionally skilled ceramic artist who is located just miles from Biltmore Estate.”

To reproduce Woman Reading with Dog, Alex employed a multi-step process similar to the one used to create the original sculpture. He began his work by hand building the figure out of clay, scaling it 9% larger than the original to account for shrinkage during the drying and firing of the clay. The entire commission took more than two years to complete.

Original terra cotta sculpture (left); new copy (right) being hand-built around a metal armature that will help support the weight of the clay.
(L-R) The original sculpture and the new clay sculpture that will be used in the plaster mold of the final version. The arms are cast and fired separately.
The original sculpture was created by Gossin Frères of Paris. The re-creation is a perfect copy that includes the firm’s mark.
The mold for the new sculpture included 50 different sections, like this piece for one of the hands.
The sculpture’s arms were cast and fired separately from the rest of the figure and attached with steel pins the day after the sculpture was installed on the Library Terrace.
The newly re-created “Woman Reading with Dog” sculpture out of the kiln after being fired.
A close up of the sculpture reveals her serene expression and the beautiful detailing of her face and features.
Kara Warren, Preventive Conservation Specialist, discusses the sculpture with artist Alex Irvine in his studio. Credit: The Biltmore Company

The next step was the creation of a 50-part plaster mold of the replicated statue. The mold was assembled on the floor of the kiln in stages to allow access for handfuls of clay to be pressed into the mold to produce a hollow cast.

The legs inside the garment and internal structure were hand-built with slabs of clay. Once cast, the surface details were refined again in preparation for firing.

The clay statue was slowly dried over six months and then fired very slowly to 2100ºF in a one-of-a-kind electric kiln built for this commission.

Installation of the new sculpture

The reproduction of Woman Reading with Dog was installed on the Library Terrace, in the same location as the original.

The replica of “Woman Reading with Dog” was carefully crated in Alex Irvine’s studio for its trip to the Library Terrace at Biltmore House. Her arms were attached with steel pins after installation was complete.
Alex Irvine, Kara Warren, and Trip Hudgins, Engineering Operations Manager, assist with the sculpture’s installation on the Library Terrace.
Asheville artist Alex Irvine oversees the prepping of the original limestone plinth on which the sculpture will be installed.
Delicate details like the dog’s tail could easily break during installation, so the artist and members of our Museum Services team handle the project with great care.
The final step of the process was to attach the sculpture’s arms with steel pins once the main installation was complete.
From this angle, you can see some of the wonderful details of the sculpture’s hand and arm, draped fabric, and even the dog’s teeth!

See preservation in action at Biltmore

Biltmore sculpture on the Library Terrace
“Woman Reading with Dog” installed on the Library Terrace of Biltmore House

In addition to viewing Woman Reading with Dog on the Library Terrace of Biltmore House, you can also view a second reproduction of this sculpture that was made as part of the process. The sculpture will be displayed in a niche in the back courtyard of Village Hotel on Biltmore Estate®.

Celebrate Summer with Sensational Sangrias

Celebrate summer with sensational sangrias featuring your favorite Biltmore wines!

Whether you’re a fan of reds, whites, or rosés, there’s a perfect option in the following recipes to help you to create fun and fruity sangrias for solo sipping and friendly gatherings all season long.

Refreshing White Sangria

Masterpiece Collection White Wine bottles with a pitcher of sangria
Perfect with your favorite warm-weather fare, our Masterpiece Collection White Wine is also refreshing as the base of a refreshing white sangria!

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

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

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

Cardinal’s Crest Red Sangria

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

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

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

Add first 6 ingredients to a small pitcher or shaker; mix until combined. Pour over ice in a wine glass and top with 1 ounce sparkling wine and garnish with lime and orange wedges. Serves 1.

Celebrate Summer with Peach Sangria

Celebrate summer with Limited Release white wines
Savor summer with our Limited Release white wines, including Orange Muscat

The delicious combination of our fragrant Orange Muscat with apricot brandy, followed by the infusion of peach puree and delicate raspberries for fresh fruit taste and texture, elevates this sangria to new heights! Stir up an icy pitcher to share with friends and family under a shade tree this summer.

• 1 bottle Biltmore Estate® Limited Release Orange Muscat
• 16 ounces Bellini Cipriani White Peach Puree
• 4 ounces vodka
• 4 ounces apricot brandy
• 1 peach, sliced
• 1 cup raspberries
• Fresh mint (optional garnish)

Add first 4 ingredients to a pitcher with enough ice to chill; mix thoroughly. Add white peach slices and raspberries and garnish with mint. Serve over ice in a Collins glass. Serves 4-6.

Strawberry Rosé Sangria Cocktail

Celebrate summer with sensational sangrias
Sweeten the long days of summer with this delightful sangria cocktail featuring Biltmore Estate Dry Rosé

Vibrant and robust, this is a cocktail-forward sangria that allows the Dry Rosé to come out on the nose while the strawberry and limoncello are on the finish. The sweetness of the powdered sugar on the lips is the perfect complement to the cocktail, and really adds to the presentation. Serves 1.

• 2½ ounces of Biltmore Estate® Dry Rosé
• 1 ounce Absolut® Juice Strawberry Edition
• ¾ ounce of Caravella Limoncello
• ¼ ounce pomegranate simple syrup
• Strawberries and blueberries rolled in powdered sugar (optional garnish), plus more sugar for dusting

Add ingredients to a mixing glass with a handful of ice and stir gently for about 10 seconds. Dust a Nick and Nora glass with powdered sugar. Strain the sangria cocktail mixture into that glass and garnish.

Purchase Biltmore wines now

Our award-winning wines are available for purchase at estate shops, online, and close to home with our Retail Locator.

Want more options to celebrate summer? Uncork these refreshing summer cocktails featuring Biltmore wines.

Special thanks to Jeremy Hood of The Urban Gastronome in Asheville, North Carolina, for developing these recipes to help us celebrate summer with our sensational sangrias!

Enhance Warm Weather Sipping with Biltmore Wines

Whether you’re packing a picnic on Biltmore Estate, entertaining friends and family outdoors, or simply relaxing on your porch or patio this summer, our wine experts offer tips for enhancing warm weather sipping with award-winning Biltmore Wines.

Refresh your palate

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

Biltmore Estate winemaker Sharon Fenchak recommends focusing on lighter, dryer, more acidic wines during the warmest months of the year.

According to Sharon, these wines refresh your palate in the same way lemonade does when the weather heats up and you feel more thirst.

“Sweeter wines tend to leave you thirsty, while wines with higher acidity such as our own crisp Biltmore Estate® Sauvignon Blanc can actually quench your thirst on a warm spring or summer day,” Sharon said.

Crisp white wines for warm weather sipping

Biltmore wines provide great summer sipping
Enjoy Biltmore white wines by the glass or bottle this summer

“Another great choice is Biltmore Estate® Limited Release Sauvignon Blanc. It is refreshing and surprisingly creamy with notes of coconut and key lime,” said Sharon, “and it pairs beautifully with salads, chicken, and grilled fish–the kinds of food you tend to serve in warmer weather.

Sharon also recommends Biltmore Estate® Pinot Grigio with its spicy citrus finish, and our off-dry, approachable Biltmore Estate® Albariño as especially nice options for sipping outdoors on spring and summer evenings.

Prefer a cool, elegant classic white wine for summer sipping? Biltmore Estate® Chardonnay offers crisp fruit flavor and hints of oak to complement everything from grilled vegetables to chicken and seafood.

Pick the perfect rosé for warm weather

Sweeten the long days of summer with this delightful sangria cocktail featuring Biltmore Estate Dry Rosé
Sweeten the long days of summer with this delightful sangria cocktail featuring Biltmore Estate Dry Rosé

Rosé drinkers will appreciate our Biltmore Estate® Dry Rosé, a surprisingly dry wine with delicate layers of berry flavors. It’s perfect with chicken, pork, salmon, and sausage–serve it along with all those smoky grilled favorites at your next backyard barbecue–or enjoy it in our refreshing “Love Never Runs Dry” cocktail.

Warm-weather sippers for red wine lovers

Biltmore Cardinal's Crest makes a sensational sangrias
Add some sparkle to warm weather sipping with our Cardinal’s Crest Sangria!

Sharon recommends mellow, versatile reds for the warm weather sipping; one of the best is Biltmore Estate® Cardinal’s Crest—a smooth, easy-to-drink blend.

“Enjoy it by the glass, or mix up a pitcher of fruity Cardinal’s Crest Sangria to sip in the shade,” Sharon said. “Your friends will thank you!” 

Biltmore bubbles are festive and fun!

Biltmore Estate Brut sparkling wine and glasses
Sparkling wines aren’t just for special occasions–they’re also super for sipping in warm weather!

Like something bubbly? Sparkling wines like our Biltmore Estate® Brut, handcrafted in the traditional méthode champenoise style, are perfect for warm weather sipping on their own and as the base of mimosas or other cocktails.

Cool down with the 20-minute rule

Bucket full of Biltmore Wines
Put Biltmore wines on your “bucket list” for summer sipping!

“Whatever wine you prefer, make sure you chill it first, even if it’s a red wine,” said Sharon. She suggests that you cool reds for about 20 minutes before you serve them. For white wines, remove from the refrigerator 20 minutes prior to serving so their aromas and flavors can be released.

“The most important rule of wine? Drink what you like, regardless of the time of year!” Sharon said.

Enjoy Biltmore wines for warm weather sipping

Summer sipping outdoors with Biltmore wines
Enjoy summer sipping and entertaining outdoors with your favorite Biltmore wines

Find your favorite Biltmore wines at Biltmore Estate shops and restaurants, our Winery, or purchase them online at

A New Life For Biltmore’s Old Rose Room

Biltmore’s Old Rose Room has a long and interesting history, and has been used in a number of different ways throughout the last century.

From bachelors to babies to Being There

Cornelia Vanderbilt Cecil and her husband John Francis Amherst Cecil with their oldest son George Henry Vanderbilt Cecil as an infant, ca. 1925.
Cornelia Vanderbilt Cecil and her husband John Francis Amherst Cecil with their oldest son George Henry Vanderbilt Cecil as an infant, ca. 1925.

On the original house plans, the Old Rose Room, located on the second floor in the Bachelor Wing, is named for its style of décor and noted as one of several guest bedrooms for single gentlemen who visited Biltmore.

In the late 1920s and early 30s, the room was repurposed as a day or night nursery for John and Cornelia Cecil’s two sons, George and William Cecil.

After the boys grew up, the room became an office for estate employees. In the late 1970s, it was updated with new wallpaper to support filming of the iconic movie Being There.

Repurposing the Old Rose Room for storage

Vintage clothing in the Old Rose Room at Biltmore
Clothing and accessories stored in the Old Rose Room at Biltmore

Today the Old Rose Room has become an important storage area for many of the intricate costumes that have been recreated for estate exhibitions.

“As Museum Services planned for future costume exhibitions, it became clear that existing storage did not support the department’s goals,” said Lenore Hardin, Associate Collections Manager. “Before we created this new system, we had a closet in a bedroom where we kept original costumes. Now we have an amazing space to help us store things properly, including 11-foot shelves.”

Much more than a costume “closet”

Top hats and casual hats stored in the Old Rose Room at Biltmore
A selection of hats stored on shelves in the Old Rose Room; photo by LeeAnn Donnelly

The primary costumes stored in the room now were part of A Vanderbilt House Party: The Gilded Age, displayed in Biltmore House in 2018. That exhibition involved 26 costumes designed specifically for Biltmore from archival photographs and portraits of the Vanderbilt family and their guests.

A total of 59 costumes were on display during A Vanderbilt House Party, with accessories such as hats, socks, shoes, and jewelry sourced for all of them. The grand total? More than 600 separate pieces were included in the exhibition—with storage required for each of them!

A place for everything

Woman in the Old Rose Room at Biltmore
Lenore Hardin at work in the Old Rose Room; photo by LeeAnn Donnelly

According to Lenore, the space resembles a very organized, giant walk-in closet. Each piece of clothing and each accessory is cataloged and placed in its own spot. A large table in the middle of the room offers ample space for viewing items and processing them for storage.

“We designed the storage system around the room, taking advantage of its high ceilings, using textile boxes and building around architectural features in the room, including a unit built around a fireplace mantel,” said Lenore.

Preservation meets storage in the Old Rose Room

Clothing stored in dust bags on padded hangers in the Old Rose Room; photo by LeeAnn Donnelly
Clothing stored in dust bags on padded hangers in the Old Rose Room

Preservation techniques are always incorporated into storage at Biltmore, and costumes are carefully protected for future use. The costumes are placed on padded hangers and placed under dust covers that are waterproof.

Some delicate costumes such as evening dresses are stored flat, in archival-safe, acid-free boxes with the folds carefully padded to prevent wrinkles. Shoes and boots stored on open shelving are filled with acid-free tissue to help keep their shape.

A lengthy process

Woman with gloves handles clothing
Lenore carefully prepares a beaded dress for proper storage; photo by LeeAnn Donnelly

Items in storage range from spectacular beaded dresses and feathered hats to cufflinks, buttons, and jewelry. One of Lenore’s favorite pieces is a reproduction of a lovely Boucheron brooch that George Vanderbilt gave to Edith as an engagement gift.

It took about two years to complete the design and creation of this storage room, from clearing it out and deciding how it should be arranged to building the necessary elements.

Determining what types of archival materials were needed to protect the costumes and getting those materials was another three months, while storing the clothing and materials took nearly a year—and the process continues.

The value of preservation

A collection of goggles and glasses; photo by LeeAnn Donnelly
A collection of goggles and glasses stored in the Old Rose Room

“Preservation has always been something that George Vanderbilt’s descendants have valued, and as William A.V. Cecil once noted, ‘we don’t preserve Biltmore to make a profit; we make a profit to preserve Biltmore.’ The family continues that principle and reflects their vision through the years,” said Lenore.

Worth Preserving: The Oak Sitting Room at Biltmore

In honor of our ongoing mission of preserving Biltmore Estate in Asheville, NC, we’ll take a closer look at the restoration of the Oak Sitting Room. Even though the process took nearly 15 years to complete, it was well worth the time and effort.

Lori Garst, Associate Curator, reflects on this massive project that returned the space to its original look and function.

Preserving Biltmore includes restoration of the Oak Sitting Room
The restoration of the Oak Sitting Room helps us interpret the room more accurately as a private apartment for the Vanderbilt family and their closest friends

Preserving Biltmore is a constant process

National Preservation Month is a time when the hard work and dedication of our employees is fully on display,” said Lori, who has worked at the estate for 31 years. “But actually, this is what we do all year long!”

Biltmore’s Museum Services team keeps a running list of projects that are addressed according to budget and need, with worn or deteriorated items receiving top priority.

“We always have a five- to 10-year plan for what needs attention,” said Lori. “We’re not only preserving objects, but also preserving Biltmore’s story. The recently restored Oak Sitting Room is a shining example of both.”

Restoring the Oak Sitting Room

Go behind the ropes to see details of the Oak Sitting Room up close!

A typical room restoration at Biltmore usually takes five to seven years, maybe less. The Oak Sitting Room, however, took a decade and a half to complete.

“We started with a target date,” said Lori, “But in this case we faced several aspects that were interesting and challenging all at the same time.”

The time-consuming process included furniture upholstery that was reproduced by the original manufacturer in France–the company was still in business and had George Vanderbilt’s fabric orders in their archives from more than 100 years before.

Lamps, and accessories were painstakingly cleaned and repaired, and conservators spent five years restoring a 17th-century Boulle-style desk—already an antique when George Vanderbilt purchased it—to its original grandeur.

“The desk was in pieces that were stored in several different places,” said Lori, “but we knew it was something special even in its disassembled state.”

A staff member is preserving and restoring brass inlay to a desk in Biltmore House
A conservator reapplies a section of the delicate brass inlay on the Boulle-style desk in the Oak Sitting Room

Working meticulously to conserve every detail of the room, Museum Services was sometimes diverted by exhibitions and other projects that rose in priority. In the end, however, the project’s extended duration contributed to its success.

Conservation and restoration are not accomplished overnight,” explained Lori. “In 15 years, we had time to pursue leads and make additional discoveries. It sounds like a long time, but what a gift it was.”

Finding clues

Restoration is not only about repairing, restoring, and reproducing rooms and the objects within them, but also discovering how and why they were used. Thorough research was conducted on the Oak Sitting Room to confirm that it functioned as a “private apartment” or more intimate family space within the large home. Clues were gleaned from unexpected sources.

Bronze statue in the Oak Sitting Room at Biltmore
One of several exceptional bronze sculptures Vanderbilt collected, now displayed in the Oak Sitting Room along with other prized possessions

“We learned some things about the Oak Sitting Room from a letter written by George Vanderbilt’s close friend Joseph Hodges Choate, the U.S. Ambassador to Great Britain who had been a guest at the estate in 1902,” said Lori. “Choate mentioned viewing George’s collection of Rembrandt etchings, which showed that the room was furnished with some of Vanderbilt’s most prized possessions.”

Knole-style furnishings and other details

Knole-style furnishings in the Oak Sitting Room at Biltmore
An 1839 portrait of Cornelius Vanderbilt by Charles Loring Elliott hangs in the Oak Sitting Room, emphasizing the importance of family in this private apartment

Research on the Oak Sitting Room also informed its furnishings plan, leading to the restoration of the English Knole-style sofa and chairs that serve as one of the room’s many focal points.

Upholstered in a striking green and gold damask, these unusual pieces of furniture are objects of curiosity to guests, but were appealing in their time for their functional flexibility (with contemporary versions still made today).

“In 1889, before the plans for Biltmore House were completed, George Vanderbilt and architect Richard Morris Hunt visited estates in England and France for inspiration,” said Lori, “and Vanderbilt noted the furniture at Knole House. He loved the articulated arms that could be raised to conserve warmth, or lowered for conversation, air flow, or even a place to rest your arms or a book. We knew the comfortable Oak Sitting Room would have been a likely place for this suite of furniture that had been in storage.”

Visit now to see how we continue preserving Biltmore

Restoration of the Oak Sitting Room in Biltmore House
With the restoration of the Oak Sitting Room, guests can easily imagine the Vanderbilts using this lovely space as a private apartment reserved for family and close friends

“Preservation at Biltmore touches every department at some level,” said Garst. “Teams come together to hang the art, put down the rugs, and arrange the furniture. Even our Floral Designers add their touches with a green palm or a tiny bud vase sitting next to a chair.”

Visit Biltmore to experience the Oak Sitting Room preservation project for yourself. Enjoy the beauty of the estate’s historic gardens and grounds throughout the year, and extend your visit with a stay at one of our distinctive hotels or private historic cottages.

Biltmore: Olmsted’s Living Masterpiece of Landscape Design

Biltmore is a living masterpiece of landscape design thanks to the work of Frederick Law Olmsted, the estate’s landscape architect.

Celebrating Olmsted’s Bicentennial

Family walking in Olmsted's mature landscape design at Biltmore
From formal gardens to woodland spaces, explore Olmsted’s living masterpiece at Biltmore

This year marks the 200th anniversary of Frederick Law Olmsted’s birth, and Biltmore is one of 120 organizations nationwide coming together as Olmsted 200: Parks for All People to create 12 months of programming and events designed to strengthen and expand parks, open space, and the American quality of life.

“For our part of the national celebration, we have added a collection of scenic stops across the property to provide details on the work Olmsted accomplished here at Biltmore,” said Lauren Henry, Associate Curator. “These interpretive signs present a rich and detailed overview of Olmsted’s final masterpiece and his enduring legacy of landscape design architecture.”

This virtual tour of Biltmore’s historic gardens and grounds provides an exciting perspective on the landscape design that Olmsted created for George Vanderbilt’s magnificent estate.

Early years

A native of Hartford, Connecticut, Frederick Law Olmsted’s early years included a wide variety of work opportunities that shaped his views and helped cultivate his interest and skill in landscape design.

In addition to his best-known career as a landscape architect, Olmsted managed a gold mine in California; he spearheaded the U.S. Sanitary Commission for the North during the Civil War; and he established The Nation, a weekly journal that is still in existence. His impact on America ranges far beyond the field of landscape design.

Other notable landscape design projects

Olmsted's landscape design: Bass Pond waterfall at Biltmore
The Bass Pond waterfall is a hidden gem in the gardens at Biltmore. Find your way to it following the trail around the Bass Pond.

In 1857, Olmsted became the superintendent overseeing work on Central Park in New York City. During the course of that complex project, he evolved into an expert in the planning of parks and landscapes. For the rest of his professional career, Olmsted would plan, design, and oversee some of the most important public and private outdoor spaces in the nation.

  • Prospect Park, Brooklyn, NY (1866)
  • U. S. Capitol Grounds, Washington, DC (1874)
  • Emerald Necklace, Boston, MA (1878)
  • Niagara Reservation, Niagara Falls, NY (1887)
  • World’s Columbian Exposition, Chicago, IL (1893)

Biltmore: a living masterpiece of landscape design

Landscape architect Fredrick Law Olmsted, George Vanderbilt, and other key Biltmore figures, 1892
Landscape architect Fredrick Law Olmsted (seated, center) and George Vanderbilt (standing, center-right) with other key Biltmore figures, 1892.

Before considering designs for his future home, George Vanderbilt brought Olmsted to the land he had purchased to assess its potential. Olmsted agreed with Vanderbilt that distant views of the Blue Ridge Mountains were pleasant, though the land itself was poor.

In order to restore this land, which was not suitable for the extensive parks Vanderbilt envisioned, Olmsted advised undertaking scientific forestry—a first for America, though the practice existed in Europe.

Portrait of Olmsted by Sargent and aerial view of landscape design at Biltmore, ca. 1950
(L-R) Portrait of Frederick Law Olmsted at Biltmore by John Singer Sargent; commissioned by George Vanderbilt, ca. 1895; aerial photograph of Biltmore House & Gardens, ca. 1950

The success of the final design of Biltmore House and its extensive home grounds, fields, and managed forests was the result of the strong collaborative effort between George Vanderbilt, architect Richard Morris Hunt, and Frederick Law Olmsted.

Though Hunt’s focus was the house and Olmsted’s the grounds, there were times when they shared ideas, with the goal of a functional and harmonious final product in mind. Vanderbilt encouraged the ambitious ideas of both men, paving the way for some of their finest work.

Discover Olmsted’s legacy at Biltmore today

Couple hiking in the woods at Biltmore
Enjoy the landscape designs that Olmsted envisioned for Biltmore more than a century ago

Biltmore was a project that stretched Olmsted’s design abilities and was unique among his body of work for its fusion of French and English (or formal and naturalistic) design influences.

The scope and variety of his endeavors here were made possible through the support of George Vanderbilt, who also saw the value in his vision. Today, Biltmore works to maintain Olmsted’s design intent and remains a key part of Olmsted’s legacy as his last great project.

We invite you to discover Olmsted’s ongoing legacy at Biltmore for yourself by enjoying our historic gardens and grounds as a guest or Annual Passholder.

Discover Biltmore’s Working Winery

Discover Biltmore’s working winery and learn how we handcraft our award-winning Biltmore wines.

Biltmore’s Wine History

George Vanderbilt was known as a thoughtful collector of wines who wove an appreciation for fine wines into the fabric of the Biltmore experience, making it part of his legacy for gracious living.

While Mr. Vanderbilt introduced the pleasures of wine to Biltmore, it was his grandson, William A.V. Cecil, who had the vision and determination to develop vineyards and a winery at his family’s estate in the early 1970s.

Creating Biltmore’s working winery

Biltmore Winery Clock Tower at sunset
A Blue Ridge Mountain sunset behind Biltmore Winery’s iconic clock tower

In 1983, renovation began on the estate’s original dairy barn to convert it into a state-of-the-art winery, complete with production facilities, a tasting room, and a wine shop.

Bill Cecil, Jr., son of William A.V. Cecil and great-grandson of George Vanderbilt, assumed a leadership role in overseeing the project. “It wasn’t easy to turn an old barn into a new working winery,” said Bill, “but we knew it was important to keep the integrity of the original structure, and that helped us make each decision along the way.”

Sharon Fenchak, Biltmore Winemaker, with a syphon
Winemaker Sharon Fenchak draws wine from a barrel with a type of syphon called a wine thief in the Barrel Room at the Winery

Biltmore Winemaker Sharon Fenchak

Since the Biltmore Winery opened in 1985, we attribute much of our success to our talented winemakers: Philippe Jourdain, Bernard Delille, and Sharon Fenchak, who joined the Winery team as assistant winemaker in 1999 and was promoted to winemaker in 2003.

Sharon now oversees Biltmore Wines as winemaker and vice president. Just like her predecessors, Sharon remains committed to handcrafting Biltmore Wines with the philosophy of keeping each wine true to varietal character, food-friendly, and consistent from vintage to vintage.

Steel tanks in Biltmore's working winery
Steel tanks used in the winemaking process at Biltmore

“Tastes change over time,” said Sharon. “Our wines are crafted in a classic style, but we keep our production facility up-to-date and we take advantage of technology and trends that help us improve our skills. It’s very important that we constantly learn more about what our guests enjoy so we can continue to produce wines they seek out here at the estate or savor in their own homes.”

Biltmore’s vineyard

According to Philip Oglesby, Vineyard Supervisor, Biltmore’s harvest season begins in late August with early-ripening white varietals such as Chardonnay. Vineyard crews pick grapes by hand throughout September and into October, giving the red varietals like Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc more time to mature.

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

“Within hours of being harvested, the grapes grown in our own vineyard on the west side of the estate are brought to the crush dock behind the Winery,” said Philip. “As the next phase of the winemaking process begins, we look forward to learning which wines will be created—especially those that earn the Biltmore® Reserve label that honors exceptional North Carolina vintages from Biltmore and our local growing partners.” 

Although most wineries specialize in either still or sparkling wines, we handcraft both here at the estate—just another distinction that sets Biltmore’s working winery apart.

Hand holding glass of Biltmore wine at our working winery
Make a reservation for your complimentary tasting at Biltmore’s working winery!

Cheers to our working winery and our handcrafted wines!

Join us at the Winery to enjoy the fruits of our labor! Savor complimentary tastings of our wines in the Tasting Room, take a deeper dive into our working winery with a Red Wine and Chocolate Tasting, or simply relax at the Wine Bar with any of our wines by the glass or bottle. 

Purchase Biltmore wines at the estate and online—or become a member of the Vanderbilt Wine Club and enjoy having our wines shipped directly to your door each season.

Featured image: Biltmore Winery entrance in Antler Hill Village

Monet & Friends Make a Grand Impression at Biltmore

Please enjoy this archived content. Our Monet & Friends exhibition ended July 10, 2022.

We’re certain that our Monet & Friends – Life, Light & Color exhibition will make a grand impression on our guests at Biltmore this spring, from March 9 through July 10, 2022.

You will be surrounded by the sights, sounds, and scents as you enter the vivid world of The Impressionists with Monet & Friends – Life, Light & Color, created and produced by Grande Experiences.

Hosted in Biltmore’s Amherst at Deerpark® exhibition space, the second stellar event in our Legends of Art & Innovation at Biltmore exhibition series will delight visitors through an immersive sensory experience celebrating one of the world’s most pivotal art movements.

See a new type of art emerge

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

From 1860–1905, a dynamic group of Paris-based artists challenged the norm and began painting in a much less formal manner than the Old Masters who came before them.

While previous subjects had included mythological stories, historical events, and portraits of famous people rendered with painstaking precision, the group who became known as The Impressionists chose instead to create bold, brush-stroked “snapshots” of everyday life, capturing the ideas and feelings of a moment in time.

Creating grand impressions

Often stationing themselves outside, or “en plein air,” the forward-thinking group recorded the everyday beauty found in garden and park landscapes, beachside and boating scenes, bustling cafés, and quiet boudoirs.

Rejected by the Salon, which was the official art exhibition of France’s Academy of Fine Arts, The Impressionists, known at the time as the Anonymous Society of Painters, Sculptors, Engravers, etc., pushed against predisposed notions of fine art and began holding their own exhibitions starting in 1874.

By their eighth and final exhibition in 1886, the public’s opinion overrode that of the Academy’s, and the popular art form represented an exciting evolution in art history.

The influence of Monet

Painting conservation: Detail of a Monet seascape in Biltmore's collection
Detail of Monet’s 1886 seascape “Belle-Île, le chenal de Port-Goulphar” in Biltmore’s collection

One of the leading Impressionist artists, Monet unwittingly became responsible for the movement’s name.

Born in France in 1840 on the coast of Normandy, Oscar-Claude Monet’s father wanted him to follow in his footsteps as a wholesale merchant. From a very young age, however, Monet wished to become an artist.

Studying at the Academie Suisse alongside classmate Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Monet was influenced by landscape painter Eugène Boudin, one of France’s first artists to paint outdoors.

Monet’s work followed the textures of his subjects; the length of his brush strokes mimicked flowers and foliage, rippling water, and boats and structures. His 1872 painting Impression, Sunrise sparked the term “Impressionists” from an art critic who felt this new style had an unfinished look. The trailblazing group of artists took the name as their own, and even more interest and curiosity was sparked about the new way of creating and viewing art.

George Vanderbilt: a patron of Impressionism

Two paintings of children by Renoir
(L-R) “Young Algerian Girl” and “Child with an Orange” by Pierre-Auguste Renoir. Both are on display in the Breakfast Room of Biltmore House.

True to his visionary approach, George Vanderbilt was an early adopter of the new Impressionist movement. His affinity for the style ultimately resulted in a collection of sixteen Impressionist works including two landscapes by Monet: Strada Romana à Bordighera and Belle-Île, le chenal de Port-Goulphar, and Renoir’s Young Algerian Girl and Child with an Orange. Vanderbilt also acquired Maufra’s Vue du Port as well as works by Manet and Whistler.

For the first time in many years, George Vanderbilt’s own Monet masterpieces will be displayed in Biltmore House along with a series of informational panels on the Impressionist movement.

Look for both paintings by Monet in the Salon and take advantage of this special opportunity to see the artist’s process up close, including his brushwork, atmospheric effects, and study of light.

Explore this multi-sensory experience

Ballerinas painted by Edgar Degas
Guests discover breathtaking scenes of light and motion captured by Impressionist artist Edgar Degas as part of the Monet & Friends experience

With our breathtaking Monet & Friends – Life, Light & Color exhibition opening March 9, you can experience the broad brushstrokes of history during a time when art and culture changed profoundly, and learn about the artists who boldly led the way.

While listening to the exquisite sounds of Debussy, Tchaikovsky, Ravel, and Offenbach, you’ll be surrounded by the masterworks of Monet, Manet, Pissarro, Renoir, Cézanne, Degas, Morisot, Toulouse Latrec, and more.

Plan your grand impression getaway today!

The warm and vibrant days of spring will arrive early at the estate during this second installment of the Legends of Art & Innovation exhibition series, along with our annual Biltmore Blooms seasonal celebration.

Enhance your visit with an overnight stay at one of our luxurious accommodations, and mark your calendar for the third and final installment of this one-of-a-kind experience: Leonardo da Vinci – 500 Years of Genius, coming to Biltmore July 14, 2022–January 8, 2023.

Featured image: Strada Romana à Bordighera by Claude Monet, 1884

Meet The Team That Handcrafts Biltmore Wines

Meet the team that handcrafts Biltmore wines here at the estate in Asheville, North Carolina. With old-world skill and new-world passion for their craft, they’re taking Biltmore’s winemaking philosophy of creating approachable vintages and varietals to new heights in the industry.

Meet Sharon Fenchak, Biltmore Winemaker and Vice President

Sharon Fenchak, Biltmore Winemaker, with a syphon
Winemaker Sharon Fenchak draws wine from a barrel with a type of syphon called a wine thief in the Barrel Room at the Winery

Sharon Fenchak has served as Biltmore’s Winemaker and Vice President since 2018. In addition to handcrafting Biltmore’s award-winning wines, her responsibilities include oversight of Biltmore’s vineyard, partnerships with local and west coast partners, and the production team that creates more than 150,000 cases of wine annually.

After high school, Sharon joined the United States Army as a Communications Specialist. While stationed in Vicenza, Italy, she discovered a new appreciation and a growing passion for wine—particularly the sparkling moscato for which the region is noted.

Once she returned to the states, Sharon earned a bachelor’s degree in food science from Penn State University and a master’s degree in the same field from the University of Georgia at Athens. She worked as an assistant winemaker at Habersham Winery in Baldwin, Georgia, then became the winemaker for Chestnut Mountain Winery in Braselton, Georgia.

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

In 1999, Sharon joined Biltmore’s winery production team as assistant winemaker, learning from veteran French winemaker Bernard Delille and leading in-house research and development for new grape-growing technology and testing grape-production methods. Sharon and Bernard shared a philosophy of creating high-quality wines that reflect true varietal character while still being food-friendly and approachable.

Sharon was promoted to Winemaker in 2003 and continued handcrafting high-quality wines worthy of the finest Biltmore traditions of taste and style. When Bernard retired, Sharon became Biltmore’s Winemaker and Vice President.

Meet Shruthi Dhoopati, Assistant Winemaker

Assistant Winemaker Shruthi Dhoopati tasting white wine
Assistant Winemaker Shruthi Dhoopati tastes wine in the Barrel Room

In her role as Assistant Winemaker, Shruthi Dhoopati is involved in every aspect of creating Biltmore wines, from helping select grapes for production to assisting Sharon in the process of developing each varietal and blend from fermenting and aging to ensuring that wines are consistent from vintage to vintage.

Before joining the winemaking team at Biltmore, Shruthi served as Winemaker and Vineyard Manager
for Addison Farms in Leicester, North Carolina.

Biltmore wine team at work in the tank room
Sharon and Shruthi taste a white wine directly from the steel tank

Shruthi obtained a Master of Science degree in Viticulture and Enology through the Vinifera Euromaster program with courses at Montpellier SupAgro, Bordeaux Sciences Agro (ISVV), and Turin University in Piemonte, Italy.

She holds a joint degree between Montpellier SupAgro, Hochschule Geisenheim, Università Degli Studi di Udine, University of Lisbon, Madrid Polytechnic, and the University of Turin. Shruthi completed her thesis work on viticultural soils of foothills and mountain areas in North Carolina and northwestern Italy.

In addition, Shruthi completed internships with Denis Dubourdieu Estates in Barsac, France, Max Ferdinand Richter Estate in Germany’s Mosel Valley, Andrew Will in Vashon, Washington, and Montenidoli in San Gimingano, Italy.

Tools used by Biltlmore's wine team to test wines
Biltmore’s winemaking team uses tools ranging from measuring cups to beakers to wine glasses to analyze results

Try Biltmore wines for yourself

Couple drinking Biltmore wine
Enjoy Biltmore wine on the estate and at home.

If you’re visiting Biltmore, discover our complimentary tasting at the Winery in Antler Hill Village, or enjoy a glass of your favorite varietal or blend at the Wine Bar or other relaxing location.

You can also find our award-winning wines in most estate shops, or online at

Featured image: (L-R) Biltmore wine’s dream team: Sharon Fenchak and Shruthi Dhoopati

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

Two paintings of children by Renoir
(L-R) “Young Algerian Girl” and “Child with an Orange” by Pierre-Auguste Renoir. Both are on display in the Breakfast Room of Biltmore House.

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.