Biltmore Wines and Spring Gift Ideas

Biltmore wines and spring gift ideas make perfect partners to help you celebrate all the holidays and occasions warmer weather brings.

Spring gift ideas

Biltmore wines and spring gift ideas
Biltmore wines make perfect gifts for spring

From special days for Moms and Dads to wedding registries and graduations, we’ve put together a helpful list for pairing your favorite Biltmore wines with our fresh and fabulous spring gift ideas!

Make Mother’s Day special

Savor summer with white wines
Enjoy all our Limited Release wines, including Roussanne, this summer!

Let Mom know how special she is this Mother’s Day with a gift inspired by the gracious hospitality for which the Vanderbilt family was famous.

Choose an exclusive design from our heirloom-quality Southern Gates® sterling silver jewelry collection to remind your mother how much she means to you.

In addition, our Vanderbilt Service Tea for One, featuring pretty porcelain pieces drawn from the details of an original set used in Biltmore House, gives Mom a relaxing way to make time for herself.

Wine suggestions: Pair these thoughtful spring gift ideas with great wine options like our soft, elegant Biltmore Estate Pinot Noir with wild cherry aromas, delicate raspberry flavors, and smooth tannins, or our delightful, light pink Biltmore Estate Blanc de Noir sparkling wine featuring flavors of cherries and strawberries.

Delight your Dad

Perfect pairings with Biltmore wines
Offer a toast to Dad this Father’s Day with his favorite Biltmore wine

Give Dad a gift of distinction with our handsome Lioncrest Bookends. The lifelike detailing makes them the perfect accessory for home or office. Is your father on the go? Treat him to a sophisticated new Biltmore Renaissance Overnighter Bag. Locally made, the entire collection is guaranteed for life. 

For dads who appreciate fine wines, consider our handsome Vanderbilt Wine Chillers featuring George Vanderbilt’s monogram. Available in two sizes and two elegant finishes, the chillers make it easy to serve Dad’s favorite wines in style.

Wine suggestions: Full-bodied with complex aromas, our Antler Hill Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley offers layers of bold fruit plus a lingering finish. Perfect now, it also has excellent aging potential. Also consider our Biltmore Estate Limited Release Sémillon—a dry white wine that is silky and palate-coating with zesty citrus aromas and fresh melon flavors.

Great gifts for graduates

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

As they cross into their next phase of life, nothing says “congratulations, graduate” better than a thoughtful piece of jewelry like our estate-inspired Crossings Necklace and matching Earrings from the elegant Southern Gates® collection for a statement that can be handed down through the generations.

Wine suggestions: Pair these great spring gift ideas for grads with our rich, fruit-forward Biltmore Estate Limited Release Malbec featuring intense spice, blueberry, and plum aromas, our Biltmore Century Sweet White Wine—a semi-sweet blend with aromas of roses and fresh mint, or our elegant and refreshing Biltmore Estate Dry Rosé with a subtle, fruit-forward bouquet followed by layers of delicate berry flavors.

Happily ever-afters

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

From proposals and marriage ceremonies to honeymoons, Biltmore has always been a desirable destination for romance. Our exclusive gifts give you a wide range of unique ideas to make any romantic event more special.

For the gift registries and wish-lists of the bride-to-be, newlyweds, or first-time homeowners, consider our estate-inspired lamps and rugs as beautiful options they’ll treasure for years to come.

Wine suggestions: Make any celebration more special with our
finest sparkling wine—Biltmore Estate Château Reserve Blanc de Blancs North Carolina. Crafted from North Carolina Chardonnay grapes and featuring tiny bubbles, this golden wine bursts forth with tropical and citrus flavors.

Another inspired idea? Give the happy couple a gift membership in our Vanderbilt Wine Club, and they’ll think of you every time their seasonal shipments arrive!

Find it all online

Biltmore wines with cake and holiday lights
Look for all Biltmore wines online

From birthdays to baby announcements, find unique treasures online and pair your purchases with our award-winning Biltmore wines–they make perfect gifts for spring occasions (or any time of year)!

Happy Birthday, Frederick Law Olmsted

Happy birthday to Frederick Law Olmsted, born April 26, 1822.

Olmsted is often referred to as the “father of landscape architecture in America,” and is best known for New York’s Central Park, which he co-designed with architect and landscape designer Calvert Vaux.

Frederick Law Olmsted and daughter Marion at Biltmore
Frederick Law Olmsted and daughter Marion Olmsted near the French Broad River at Biltmore, ca. 1895. (Photo courtesy of the United States Department of the Interior, National Park Service, Frederick Law Olmsted National Historic Site.)

Each April, we honor Olmsted’s work as the designer of the artful landscape surrounding Biltmore House.

Envisioning Biltmore

Olmsted knew William Henry Vanderbilt, George Vanderbilt’s father, when they both lived on Staten Island, and the designer had already worked on several Vanderbilt family projects when George Vanderbilt approached him in 1888 to advise on the first 2,000 acres of North Carolina property he’d already purchased.

Mountain views at Biltmore
Mountain views from Biltmore House

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

After visiting Vanderbilt’s acreage in Asheville, North Carolina, Olmsted gave his young client a frank assessment of the property:

“The soil seems to be generally poor. The woods are miserable, all the good trees having again and again been culled out and only the runts left. The topography is most unsuitable for anything that can properly be called park scenery. My advice would be to make a small park in which you look from your house, make a small pleasure ground and gardens; farm your river bottoms chiefly and…keep and fatten livestock with a view to manure and…make the rest a forest.”

Collaboration with Richard Morris Hunt

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

Archival photo of workers on the Approach Road to Biltmore House
Photo caption: The Biltmore Company.

Olmsted wrote that he was nervous, not sure how to “merge stately architectural work with natural or naturalistic landscape work.” But the architect and landscape designer worked together “without a note of discord,” and Olmsted biographer Witold Rybczynki says that the landscape architect achieved something completely original at Biltmore: the first combination of French and English landscape designs.

Designing a living masterpiece

Transitions between formal and natural gardens were important, as was the use of native plants, small trees and large shrubs, and color and texture year-round.

View of the Approach Road in spring
The Approach Road, which Olmsted designed to achieve a “sensation passing through the remote depths of a deep forest,” only to have “the view of the Residence, with its orderly dependencies, to break suddenly, fully upon one.” Photo credit: The Biltmore Company.

Biltmore would prove to be Olmsted’s last design. As he approached the end of his work on the estate, he said “It is a great work of peace we are engaged in and one of these days we will all be proud of our parts in it.”

He said Biltmore was “the most permanently important public work” of his career. More than 125 years later, we continue to benefit from his vision.

Experience Biltmore Blooms

Spring is a wonderful season to experience the mature landscape that Olmsted envisioned. Plan a visit now during Biltmore Blooms, our annual celebration of spring.


Featured image: Portrait of Frederick Law Olmsted by John Singer Sargent

Perfect Pairings: Red Wine and Chocolate at Biltmore

If you’re looking for a match made in heaven, look no farther than the Red Wine and Chocolate Tasting offered daily at Biltmore’s Winery.

How it works

“Pairing red wines with chocolates is an exciting way to discover nuances in both flavors,” said Les Norman, one of several knowledgeable Winery hosts who guide guests through the tasting.

Biltmore host for Red Wine and Chocolate Tasting
Biltmore Winery host Les Norman guides guests through the Red Wine & Chocolate Tasting

“Biltmore has partnered with French Broad Chocolates to provide several different delectable chocolates to pair with some of our premium Biltmore wines,” Les said. “In some cases, this local artisan chocolate company that specializes in bean-to-bar products has created a new flavor to match specific characteristics in a certain wine.”

Pouring red wines for the Red Wine and Chocolate Tasting
Pouring Biltmore red wines for the Red Wine and Chocolate Tasting

Getting started

Les likes to begin the tasting with a bit of background about Biltmore Winery and the award-winning wines handcrafted there. He offers guests a fascinating glimpse into the estate’s vineyards, production methods, and winemaking philosophy under the direction of Winemaker Sharon Fenchak.

Biltmore red wines and chocolates
Enjoy our Red Wine and Chocolate Tasting featuring premium Biltmore wines and artisan chocolate truffles from French Broad Chocolates

Once he sets the scene, Les describes the process of tasting wines, and has participants take a fun jellybean “test” to better understand how smell and taste affect sensory perceptions.

Pairing red wines and chocolates

“Now we’re ready to pair our red Biltmore wines with chocolates!” Les declares.

Les makes sure guests take time to savor the bouquet of each wine and understand its flavor profile as they taste the possibilities.

He offers interesting details about viscosity and alcohol content, effortlessly blending his extensive knowledge of wines with the delightful pairings.

Glass of Biltmore red wine and a chocolate truffle
A fresh raspberry truffle pairs perfectly with our Antler Hill Zinfandel Rockpile 2017

The tasting continues with amazing pairings of some of our premium red wines with exceptional chocolate truffles crafted by locally owned French Broad Chocolates.

Some truffles work well with several of the wines, so be sure to save a sip or two in each glass!

Discover the delights of red wine and chocolate

Biltmore Red Wine and Chocolate Tasting at the Winery
Biltmore Red Wine and Chocolate Tasting at the Winery

Our Red Wine and Chocolate Tasting is offered daily at the Winery at 1 p.m., 3 p.m., and 5 p.m. The cost is $55 per person, and capacity is limited to 10 guests for each one-hour event.

Advance reservations are strongly recommended for these popular daily tastings. To reserve, you must have a daytime ticket, a Biltmore Annual Pass, or an overnight stay booked at one of our properties. Guests must be 21 years of age and older with a valid ID to attend this or any other specialty wine experience.

To reserve your spot, call 1800-543-2961 or visit any Guest Services location on the estate.

Highlights From Our 2019 Vineyard Harvest

In 2019, Biltmore’s vineyard produced 177.5 tons of grapes on approximately 45 acres of mature vitis vinifera vines—that’s almost double last year’s output.

Biltmore vineyard supervisor Philip Oglesby
Biltmore vineyard supervisor Philip Oglesby

“Harvest began on August 22, and that’s the earliest start I remember in more than 20 years,” said Philip Oglesby, Vineyard Supervisor. “We picked until October 11, and the weather cooperated with long, hot, dry days that allowed the grapes to mature to their full potential.”  

With an average yield of more than four tons per acre, our 2019 harvest can be considered one of the best in recent memory.

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

Quantity and quality

In addition to the quantity, the quality of fruit produced in 2019 was outstanding. Weather played an important role in the process as relatively mild spring temperatures gave way to the kind of hot, dry summer conditions that create earlier-than-normal ripening times.

Biltmore Reserve Chardonnay North Carolina
Grapes for our Biltmore Reserve wines are grown at the estate or selected from local partners

“As always, we look forward to the fine wines that will be handcrafted following the harvest—especially our Biltmore® Reserve wines that are created from estate-grown grapes,” Philip said. “This special designation represents our finest local vintages and our continued commitment to our agricultural heritage.”

Highlights from Biltmore’s vineyards: 

  • Cabernet Franc                                                         37 tons on 8.2 acres
  • Cabernet Sauvignon                                              32 tons on 10.2 acres
  • Chardonnay                                                            103 tons on 25 acres
  • Merlot  5.5 tons on 1.2 acres

Total: 177.5 tons on 44.6 acres

Highlights from our partner vineyards

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

Washington:

Biltmore winemaker Sharon Fenchak selected approximately 160 tons of grapes from the state of Washington (America’s second largest producer of wine grapes), with average brix (measurement for the number of grams of sugar present per 100 grams of liquid) around 25, which is comparable to last year.

  • September was very rainy and a hard freeze in early October preventing the grapes from ripening further.
  • Varietals: Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Merlot, Mourvedre, Petite Verdot, and Tempranillo.
  • Increased selection by 12% compared to 2018.
Clusters of ripe red grapes in Biltmore's vineyard
As the grapes ripen in our vineyards, the fruit must be protected from uninvited guests such as robins, geese, and turkeys.

California:

Sharon selected approximately 25 different varietals from multiple growing regions throughout the state with an average brix of 23, which was slightly higher than 2018. 

  • Arroyo Seco, CA
    • Approximately 18,000 acres located along the central coast in Monterey County.
    • Cold winter, mild-but-wet spring, and a few summertime heat spikes left grapes with a little more hang-time and a later harvest by about 2–3 weeks.
    • Varietals: Sauvignon Blanc, Muscat, Chenin Blanc, Riesling, Pinot Noir and Cabernet Sauvignon.
  • Mendocino County, CA
    • North coast; 14, 512 acres includes 10 different American Viticultural Areas (AVAs) with very diverse climates.
    • Wet spring and late bud break gave way to moderate weather for most of the growing season; yields were light-to-average, with good fruit quality for the vintage.
    • Varietals: Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, and Pinot Noir.
  • Russian River Valley in Sonoma County, CA
    • About 15,000 acres of vineyards; known for cool-climate grapes.
    • Heavy rain in late winter and a wet spring led to a moderate yield with a good and healthy crop.
    • Varietals: Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Zinfandel
    • We selected about 120 tons of fruit from the region, with the majority being Pinot Noir, of which about half will be handcrafted to become Vanderbilt Reserve wines.
Pouring Biltmore wine into a glass
Tempranillo is a great way to spice up your wine selections

Savor Biltmore Wines

Whether you’re visiting the estate and enjoying complimentary tastings at our Winery or stocking up on your favorite varietals in your neighborhood or online, we invite you to savor our award-winning wines today!

Explore Biltmore Estate Limited Release Wines

For our Biltmore Estate Limited Release series, winemaker Sharon Fenchak carefully crafts each one with outstanding grapes sourced from partner vineyards in California and Washington.

Biltmore winemaker Sharon Fenchak in the Barrel Room at the Winery
Biltmore winemaker Sharon Fenchak in the Barrel Room at the Winery

“When I discover exceptional grapes from one of our west coast growers, it inspires me to create distinctive wines for our Limited Release series,” Sharon said.

She noted that the Limited Release wines are usually based on smaller amounts of fruit, and that gives her production team an opportunity to bring out the qualities of the varietal.

96 Points: Biltmore Estate® Limited Release Malbec

Enjoy Biltmore Estate Limited Release Wines
Enjoy award-winning Biltmore Estate Limited Release Wines like our Malbec

Dark chocolate-covered cherries, hints of cocoa, and violets are the dramatic opening scents of our outstanding Biltmore Estate Limited Release Malbec, which just scored 96 points and a double gold medal at the prestigious San Francisco International Wine Competition.

The varietal originated in France and rose to its current popularity in Argentina and California. As dark as crushed berries in the glass, our Malbec is rich, fruit-forward, and a bit spicy with lingering tannins that pair perfectly with grilled meat, kebabs, and andouille sausage.

It’s also a surprisingly good partner for smoked cheeses and vegetarian fare like mushroom ragout, Portobello burgers, and tempeh dishes. As delicious as it is now, it offers good aging potential—if you can stand to wait!

91 Points: Biltmore Estate® Limited Release Tempranillo

Most of the world’s Tempranillo is grown in Spain where it is believed to have originated, but this earthy red wine is rapidly gaining a following around the globe.

“Tempranillo has a lot of personality,” said Sharon. “Ours is full-bodied and fruit-forward with earthy aromas, rich dried fig flavors, and lingering tannins—just what you’d expect in a classic barrel-aged version of this varietal.”

Because of its excellence, our Biltmore Estate Limited Release Tempranillo was recently awarded 91 points and a gold medal by the Beverage Testing Institute. This hearty wine is a great match for beef, lamb curry, and pork.

Explore all Biltmore Estate® Limited Release wines

Pouring Biltmore wine into a glass
Tempranillo is a great way to spice up your wine selections

In addition to these two award-winning varietals, enjoy other wines in our Limited Release series: Biltmore Estate Limited Release Chenin Blanc, Biltmore Estate Limited Release Gewürztraminer, Biltmore Estate Dry Riesling, Biltmore Estate Limited Release Merlot, Biltmore Estate Limited Release Sauvignon Blanc.

Purchase Biltmore Wines online now

Biltmore Estate Limited Release Merlot on a holiday table
Purchase any of our wines–including the Limited Release series–at the estate or online

Whether you stick to your favorites or explore any of our unique varietals, you can stock up on our award-winning wines close to home through our Retail Locator or shop online.

Creating A Glorious Gingerbread Cottage

Thank you for enjoying this archived content from 2019!

Each year, the pastry team at The Inn on Biltmore Estate® welcomes Christmas at Biltmore with a special tradition: the construction of a gingerbread confection inspired by the beautiful details of George Vanderbilt’s private estate.

The Cottage on Biltmore Estate
The Cottage on Biltmore Estate

Choosing the perfect subject

For 2019, the team has chosen to reproduce the charming Market Gardener’s Cottage that greets guests as they travel to and from The Inn on Biltmore Estate.

Designed by Richard Howland Hunt, son of Biltmore House architect Richard Morris Hunt, the Market Gardener’s Cottage dates back to 1896. It was the site of the estate’s Market Garden, also known as the Truck Farm.

Fresh fruits and vegetables grown in the fertile fields surrounding the cottage were served in Biltmore House, and the surplus was sold to area hotels, grocers, and community members.

Now known as Cottage on Biltmore Estate, this historic structure is offered as a premier overnight property that allows guests to enjoy an extraordinary lodging experience.

A challenging creation

Members of The Inn’s pastry team contributed more than 295 hours of labor to construct this gingerbread replica of Biltmore’s historic Market Gardener’s Cottage.

“Creating the cottage was extra challenging for us this year because we had to halt production for two days since Thanksgiving was so late,” said Pastry Chef Dana McFarland who oversees the project each year.

A family of bears on the steps of the gingerbread cottage
A family of bears on the steps of the gingerbread cottage

Special ingredients

Her team used the following ingredients for their massive gingerbread construction project:

  • 124 pounds of powdered sugar
  • 17 pounds of gingerbread
  • 15 pounds of modeling chocolate
  • 14 pounds of Jolly Rancher® hard candies
  • 8 pounds of fondant
  • 5 pounds of old-fashioned candy sticks
  • 5 pounds of caramel chocolate balls
  • 4 pounds of Jelly Belly® jelly beans
  • 9 ounces of M&M’s®
  • 2 ounces of Sixlets®

In researching the Market Gardener’s Cottage to make sure they had the details correct, the pastry team learned that there were originally several greenhouses behind it. They created an array of fruits and vegetables that might be grown in a greenhouse at this time of year to display in the cottage’s courtyard, including apples, butternut squash, carrots, pears, and pumpkins.

Confection perfection!

“All the shingles on the cottage were hand-cut out of modeling paste,” Chef McFarland said. “And though most guests have guessed that the courtyard bricks are made out of Tootsie Rolls®, we actually used Jolly Rancher candies to get that look.”

Gingerbread cottage at The Inn on Biltmore Estate
The decorated Christmas tree in the courtyard of the cottage

One special highlight of the gingerbread cottage is the Christmas tree in the courtyard–it has tiny garlands of popped sorghum on it–and it spins!

“The wreaths and garlands on the cottage all have individually-cut cut green flowers on them to give the appearance of evergreens,” said Chef McFarland, “while the bushes in the front and the trees in the back are made with Rice Krispy® treats.”

Tiny gingerbread wreath on the cottage
A perfectly detailed gingerbread wreath on the cottage

Last but certainly not least, Chef McFarland notes that there are 60 feet of mini lights on the outside of the cottage, and an infuser placed inside the structure makes it look as if there’s real smoke rising from the chimney.

Special thanks to The Inn’s talented pastry team of Chef Dana McFarland, Megan Shreve, Ron Levitan, Lucas Conti, Leilani Padilla, Rachel Tipping, Ashley Buchleitner, Laura Hinzman, Danyelle Sander, Sarah Vess, and Anthony Mushinski for all their hard work!

Visit now

Gingerbread house
Create your own charming confection at one of our Gingerbread House Tea events!

This charming confectionery delight was displayed in the Lobby of The Inn during our 2019 Christmas at Biltmore celebration.

Romance Sparkles at Biltmore

In addition to being America’s Largest Home®, Biltmore also features a state-of-the-art working winery.

There are other distinctions that set Biltmore’s Winery apart, such as the fact that our winemaker crafts both still and sparkling wines here. It’s unusual to offer both—most wineries specialize in one or the other—but Biltmore has a long history of doing the unexpected.

Our sparkling legacy

One reason for our sparkling wine program is to honor the legacy of Edith Dresser Vanderbilt’s family.

Edith Dresser's formal engagement photo, 1898
Edith Dresser’s formal engagement photo, 1898

On May 31, 1898, the Asheville Citizen reported the following story in connection with the upcoming marriage of George Vanderbilt and his fiancée Edith Dresser:

The wine with which the health of the bride is to be drunk at the wedding breakfast of Miss Edith Dresser and George Vanderbilt Thursday has a history, according to the Washington Post. Many years ago the wine cellar of Daniel Le Roy, one of the pioneer summer residents of Newport, was famous, and large sums were offered for what remained of it when Mr. Le Roy died.

None of this famous wine was ever sold, but as the stock decreased Mrs. Le Roy directed that it should not be used except at the wedding of her grandchildren and their descendants, a certain number of bottles being apportioned to each.

“Once we discovered this story,” said Jill Whitfield, senior marketing manager for Biltmore Wines. “We wanted to share the details so that everyone could enjoy it. It continues to inspire us as we create different styles of sparkling wines perfect for all celebrations,” Jill said.

Isn’t it romantic?

Biltmore Estate Romance Brut Sparkling wine label
Romance features a stunning floral label

Our Biltmore Estate® Romance Brut honors that charming gesture. Romance is handcrafted from grapes selected from our California vineyard partners, including a hint of Pinot Noir that shows up in its delicate rosy straw color. The soft bouquet offers hints of citrus, apple, and brioche, while fine, tiny bubbles give way to flavors of white peach and a surprisingly creamy mouthfeel. Pair it with your favorite party fare including prosciutto-wrapped melon, chicken salad croissants, brie, and—of course—wedding cake!

In addition to being an exceptional sparkling wine, Romance features a lovely floral label that enhances any special occasion, from bridal showers and receptions to engagements and anniversaries.

Handcrafted in traditional style

Sparkling wine being poured into a glass
Our sparkling wines are handcrafted in the traditional style

“All our sparkling wines are handcrafted in the traditional méthode champenoise,” said Jill. “This process requires a secondary fermentation in the bottle, and is vital for developing the delicate bubbles that characterize outstanding sparkling wines.”

Let the party bubble up!

Pouring sparkling wine
Sip Pas de Deux Sec with food or create sparkling cocktails

If you’re looking for a versatile sparkling wine that pairs well with a surprising variety of foods, opt for our Pas de Deux® Moscato Sparkling Wine. “This semi-sweet sparkler has a slight orange aroma that complements its flavor profiles, plus flavors of wild strawberry and lemon,” said Jill.

“Our Pas de Deux is a delightful addition to sweet treats such as fresh fruit, pound cake, and crème brûlée, and it’s a perfect partner for spicy cuisines,” Jill noted. “And it was recently awarded 90 points by Beverage Testing Institute!”

More great ratings

Biltmore sparkling wines in an ice bucket
Put Biltmore Estate Brut on your “bucket list!”

Our Biltmore Estate® Brut recently earned 90 Points + Editor’s Choice from Wine Enthusiast, making it another excellent choice for celebrations or any occasion that calls for bubbly.

“It’s a refreshing blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir ,” Jill said, “and it offers a good balance of citrus and strawberries with hints of honey and apricot.”

Our finest sparkling

Pouring Biltmore sparkling wine into a glass
Biltmore sparkling wines are characterized by fine, tiny bubbles

For a truly elegant gesture, Jill suggests serving our Biltmore Estate® Château Reserve Blanc de Blancs.

“This is our finest sparkling wine,” Jill said. “It is crafted from North Carolina Chardonnay grapes and features tiny, elegant bubbles that burst to release tropical and citrus flavors. If you want to make an impression on someone special, this is the wine to choose.”

Biltmore Estate Brut and glasses
Celebrate any occasion with Biltmore sparkling wines

No matter what you’re serving or celebrating, pair your good times with Biltmore wines!

Decking the Halls, Biltmore Style

Please enjoy this archived content from Christmas 2019.

Each year, our Floral Displays team decks the halls of America’s Largest Home® for Christmas at Biltmore.

For 2019, discover how they draw inspiration from the beautiful details, including the art and furnishings, in Biltmore House.

Winter Garden and Surroundings

Decorating Christmas trees in Biltmore House
Norene Barrett puts finishing touches on a Christmas tree topper

Norene Barrett began working at Biltmore 18 years ago in the mail services department. Though she enjoyed her role, she looked for different ways to express her own creativity.

In 2015, after taking an intensive course in floral design, Norene joined Floral Displays and is now responsible for decorating sections of Biltmore House and the estate.

Decorating Christmas trees in Biltmore House
Floral team members Feny Bryan, Norene Barrett, and Kathy Nameth decorate a trio of trees inspired by the Greek friezes on the wall

“This trio of trees is meant to take guests back in time,” Norene said of her design for the area between the Winter Garden and the Billiard Room. “The trees are cheery and bright, but I used a lot of white elements for continuity with the series of Greek friezes on the walls.”

Norene added snowy branches to her décor along with period ornaments to bring a nostalgic feeling of Christmas past.

Winter Garden in Biltmore House decorated for Christmas at Biltmore
Winter Garden decorated for Christmas at Biltmore

For the Winter Garden, Norene is planning to light the evergreen garlands so that they glow, and instead of traditional kissing balls suspended from the greenery, she has created sparkling swags that catch the light. She’ll also add plenty of poinsettias to emphasize the garden feel of the space.

Breakfast Room

Adding ornaments to a Christmas tree in the Breakfast Room
Joslyn Kelly adds ornaments to the Breakfast Room tree

“This is the room where the family would eat breakfast, so I wanted it to have a warm, homey feeling as if you’re being welcomed to the table,” said Joslyn Kelly, floral designer.

Pink ornaments for the Breakfast Room
A selection of red and pink Christmas ornaments chosen to complement the Breakfast Room decor

Drawing inspiration from the room’s elegant cut velvet draperies and upholstery, Joslyn selected ornaments in a range of pinks and reds to complement the lovely patterns and colors of the fabric.

Floral displays on the Breakfast Room table
Lush floral displays and cranberry topiaries top the Breakfast Room table during Christmas at Biltmore

Look for glorious floral arrangements, towering topiaries of deep burgundy cranberries, and gilded pears among the delicate crystal and china place settings on the table.

Morning Salon

Nativity scene in the Tapestry Gallery
The estate’s Nativity scene, often staged in the Tapestry Gallery in years past

Cristy Leonard has been a member of the floral team for seven years, and the Salon is one of her areas to decorate for our 2019 Christmas at Biltmore celebration.

The estate’s large traditional Nativity will be staged in the Salon this year, and according to Cristy, the set has been a major source of inspiration for her designs.

“I’ve planned special new surroundings that includes twinkling lights to resemble nighttime in Bethlehem,” Cristy said.

Biltmore designer holds ornaments she created
Cristy Leonard displays ornaments she created for the Salon tree

Cristy chose to decorate the Salon’s main tree in brilliant peacock blues and greens with bright touches of gold. She added cherubs, gilded grapes, and grapevines to symbolize the prosperity and blessings of the season.

Christmas tree in Biltmore House Salon
Salon Christmas tree wound with gold fabric

As a finishing touch, Cristy swathed the tree in yards of gauzy golden fabric, echoing the look of the room’s iconic draped and tented ceiling.

Third Floor Living Hall

Staff favorites: Harpist playing in the Third Floor Living Hall
A harpist plays Christmas carols in the Third Floor Living Hall

During the Vanderbilt era, Third Floor Living Hall was a place for guests to relax in the evenings, share the events of the day, and perhaps read or catch up with friends.

Michelle Warren of Biltmore’s floral team created a child’s tree for this room, complete with dolls, toys, and wooden soldiers around the base, ready for the younger set to play with them while their parents indulged in a sing-along or a game of cards.

Humpty Dumpty toy under Christmas tree
A whimsical Humpty Dumpty and other toys under the Third Floor Living Hall Christmas tree

As you enter Third Floor Living Hall, look for a charming scene featuring a table set up with paper, ribbon, and tags, just as if Edith Vanderbilt were wrapping her gifts for the Christmas season!

Other 2019 Christmas at Biltmore highlights:

  • Grand Staircase
    • This elegant Christmas tree is centered under the Grand Staircase Chandelier, making it appear as though the four-story light is the tree topper.
  • Banquet Hall
    • From the 35-foot fresh Fraser fir at one end to the triple fireplaces at the other, the Banquet Hall is a traditional guest favorite and one of the most beloved rooms in Biltmore House.
  • Library
    • Themed around the idea of Christmas Traditions, the Library incorporates traditional colors such as gold, red, green, plaids, and a tartan print.
  • Oak Sitting Room
    • The colorful décor in rich jewel tones of red, cobalt, gold, and green is drawn from the room’s splendid Axminster—the only rug of English origin in Biltmore House.
  • Mrs. Vanderbilt’s Bedroom
    • The tree ornaments are inspired by the Vanderbilts’ courtship which took place in Paris. The room features a soft mix of lilac, amber, and cream colors drawn from the distinctive oval ceiling.
  • Main Kitchen
    • Look for a whimsical gingerbread replica of Biltmore House.

Christmas at Biltmore

Enjoy the daytime celebration November 1, 2019–January 5, 2020, and experience Candlelight Christmas Evenings through January 4, 2020.

Biltmore Holiday Wine Guide

To share the warmth and cheer of Biltmore wines, we’ve created our Holiday Wine Guide to help you make the most of this special season.

“The Holiday Wine Guide covers all the different celebrations from Thanksgiving to New Year’s,” said Jill Whitfield, senior wine marketing manager. “There are recommendations for each special occasion, including thanking your hosts and having gifts on-hand for surprise guests.”

Holiday Entertaining with Wines

Biltmore wines with cake and holiday lights
Look for all Biltmore wines online

“For general holiday entertaining, Biltmore® Estate Cabernet Sauvignon–awarded 95 points in the prestigious San Francisco International Wine Competition–and Biltmore Estate® Pinot Grigio, which received 90 points from the Beverage Testing Institute, are a great place to start,” Jill said.

Jill recommends rounding out your selections with our Biltmore® Reserve Rosé North Carolina 2018, Vanderbilt Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon Dry Creek Valley 2017, and our bubbly Biltmore Estate® Blanc de Blancs sparkling wine.

Your Thanksgiving Table

Thanksgiving table with Biltmore wines
Our Thanksgiving Trio brings everyone to the table

Whether you’re adding a leaf to your table to accommodate a crowd or traveling out of town to visit family, Biltmore wines pair perfectly with everything from turkey and dressing to flavorful new “Friendsgiving” favorites.

“Our special Thanksgiving Trio featuring Biltmore® Reserve Chardonnay North Carolina 2018Vanderbilt Reserve Pinot Noir Russian River Valley 2017, and Biltmore Estate® Brut makes it easy to pair all your holiday favorites with a fine wine,” said Jill. “If you want to add a bit more variety, Biltmore Estate® Dry Rosé and Biltmore Estate® Merlot are great wines for delighting your guests.”

Wrap-up Gift Giving with Biltmore Wines

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

Simplify holiday shopping by sharing the gift of Biltmore wines. They make a thoughtful gift for anyone on your list or a special thank-you to your hosts for including you in their celebration.

Consider options such as The Hunt Red Blend Sonoma County 2017, which earned 91 points from Critics Challenge, our charming Mariporta Red Dessert Wine, long-time guest favorite Biltmore Estate® Cardinal’s Crest, our lightly sweet Biltmore Estate® Limited Release Chenin Blanc, or our finest sparkling–Biltmore Estate® Château Reserve Blanc de Blancs North Carolina 2017, handcrafted from outstanding locally-grown grapes.

Savor Christmas with Biltmore Wines

Biltmore wines with Christmas tree and desserts
When planning your virtual wine tasting, choose at least three wines to sample together

Showcase your Christmas Eve gathering, Christmas Day Brunch, and Christmas Day Dinner with our most versatile, food-friendly wines to complement any cuisine. 

“Our Biltmore Estate® Sauvignon Blanc earned 91 points in the San Francisco International Wine Competition,” Jill said, “while Critics Challenge awarded our Antler Hill® Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley 2015 93 points. We think you’ll also enjoy sharing our Biltmore Estate® RieslingBiltmore® Reserve Viognier North Carolina 2018, and our Biltmore Estate® Limited Release Malbec with your special guests.”

New Year’s: Ready, Set, Celebrate!

Celebrate with Biltmore sparkling wines
Our handcrafted Biltmore bubbles make any occasion more special

For a more memorable midnight on New Year’s Eve or a brunch featuring traditional favorites the following day, be sure to include our sparkling wine, handcrafted in the time-honored méthode champenoise that creates the finest bubbles.

“Shake things up with our Biltmore Estate® Blanc de Noir,” suggested Jill. “Not only is it delicious, but the soft coral color makes it a feast for the eyes, too!”

Sparkling wines may be traditional for New Year’s, but Jill recommends considering a range of other options  including our Biltmore Estate® Limited Release Gewürztraminer, Biltmore Estate® Limited Release TempranilloBiltmore Estate® Pinot Noir, and Biltmore Estate® Chardonnay.

Enjoying Our Wines at Home for the Holidays

Biltmore wines with chocolate desserts
For the holidays, we’ve bundled the best of our award-winning wines to help you simplify your celebrations (and save)!

“If you’re ready to re-stock your wine reserves, you can find Biltmore wines close to home with our Retail Locator,” said Jill.

Join the Vanderbilt Wine Club®

Vanderbilt Wine Club Christmas party
Enjoy members-only events like our annual Christmas party

Give a year of wine to someone special with a gift membership in our Vanderbilt Wine Club. Members receive three hand-selected Biltmore wines each season, shipped direct to your door, and the first club shipment ships free.

In addition, members save up to 25% on all wine purchases online or at the estate, plus complimentary premium wine tastings, access to first release wines, members-only events, and much more. 

Shedding New Light on Biltmore’s Halloween Room

Ongoing archival research allows us to shed new light on Biltmore’s Halloween Room, and our Museum Services team has made some interesting discoveries!

The Halloween Room

Witches, bats, and black cats don’t usually come to mind when you think of Biltmore, but deep in the basement of America’s Largest Home®, there’s a cavernous room with brick walls painted in brightly-colored murals depicting an array of such creatures.

The paintings include characters from folklore, a platoon of soldiers, and other imaginative imagery that eventually caused this area to be dubbed the Halloween Room.

Soldiers painted on the walls of Biltmore's Halloween Room
Painted soldiers depicted in Halloween Room mural

For many years, the colorful murals remained a bit of a mystery, with some thought that the room was the scene of a 1920s Halloween weekend house party during which guests of John and Cornelia Cecil were invited make their mark on the walls.

Subsequent research revealed, however, that the paintings were created in December 1925 to prepare the room for a New Year’s Eve celebration–but that still didn’t explain the slightly eerie tone of the murals.

New Discoveries

Theatrical program for La Chauve-Souris
Theatrical program for La Chauve-Souris

Leslie Klingner, Curator of Interpretation, recently discovered an obscure connection between the scenes on the walls and an avant-garde Russian cabaret and theatrical troupe called La Chauve-Souris, which translates to The Bat.

The troupe toured America in the 1920s, performing on Broadway in 1922 and again in 1925. The vaudevillian comedic acts were set off by abstract sets designed by two Russian artists, Sergei Sudeikin and Nicolai Remisoff. The show met with great success, triggering a rage for all things Russian in New York City and beyond.

The Cecils must have been fans of the cabaret as they and their friends created their own version of La Chauve-Souris on the basement walls of Biltmore House. Most of the murals were drawn directly from Remisoff and Sudeikin’s illustrations for the theatrical program. 

Staff looks at an archival copy of La Chauve-Souris theatrical program
Leslie Klingner reviews an archival copy of the La Chauve-Souris program

After three weeks of painting, the Cecils hosted a gypsy-themed ball on December 30, 1925, as part of their New Year’s celebration.

“This connection was really exciting to me because we didn’t expect it at all,” Leslie said. “It wasn’t until I read an autobiography of a local man who went to that party that I put it together.”

“The best party I have ever attended”

Halloween Room mural in Biltmore House
Painted scenes in the Halloween Room

The Charleston Daily Mail reported that 100 guests attended the Cecil’s New Year’s Eve festivities. One costumed attendee, local resident James G.K. McClure, recalled arriving in the basement of Biltmore with his wife Elizabeth, armed with a guitar and an old accordion, to find a room full of “all kinds of gypsy atmosphere such as cauldrons and pots and glowing fire … all around.” 

Enchanted by the unexpected theatrics, he wrote a detailed account of the holiday soiree to a friend, describing “a gypsy dance at Biltmore House which was the best party I have ever attended.”

Building Biltmore House

Originally designed for storage, The Halloween Room currently showcases our Building Biltmore House exhibition that features additional in-depth information about the people, circumstances, and innovations surrounding the building of George Vanderbilt’s magnificent estate.

Building Biltmore House also offers a special focus on the craftsmanship and labor of the employees who worked on the project rather than just the construction techniques.