Restoring the Past: The Smoking & Gun Rooms

For upper echelons during the Gilded Age, few things were more important than networking and maintaining social standing. Smoking and Gun Rooms were essential for many affluent families. At Biltmore, these two rooms have been used in various ways over the last century, yet always centered around hospitality.

In honor of National Preservation Month in May, we invite you to learn about the intricate layers of our preservation efforts to restore the Smoking and Gun Rooms of Biltmore House.

Hallway between Smoking and Gun Room
An archival photo of the hallway from the 1940s displays embossed wallpaper resembling leather, dating back to 1911.

A home well-loved

Biltmore has been called home to many generations of Vanderbilts and Cecils throughout the years. And, just as we do in our own homes, we update, refresh, and alternate the use of space, the Smoking and Gun Rooms on the first floor of Biltmore House were no different.

During George Vanderbilt’s time, gentlemen primarily utilized these rooms to socialize, relax, and gear up for outdoor activities including hunting and fishing. After George’s death, Edith and Cornelia downsized, and used these rooms as office and living quarters, which they remained through the Cecils’ stay. Always evolving and reflecting the tastes of the time and lifestyles of their inhabitants.

Handwritten letter by George Vanderbilt from February 13, 1896. Letter says
A handwritten letter by George Vanderbilt in 1896 gives us a glimpse at the historic use of these rooms.

History writes itself

Through a combination of research, our own archival documents and photos, and those from repositories around the world, we can peel back the layers of time to bring Biltmore back to its roots.

Among the treasures uncovered in our archives are a series of letters that offer a glimpse into the past. One letter, dated to the 1890s, finds George requesting retrieval of a box stored in a desk in the Smoking Room—these little nuggets of information provide us with invaluable clues to the room’s furnishings and use.

“Dear Charles, With the enclosed key please open the desk in the smoking room. In the middle drawer is a box addressed to me at Biltmore about 14×7 inches + 2 inches deep… On the top of the desk are a lot of letters and some invitations. Please mail me these.” – George Vanderbilt on February 13, 1896

Herbert Noble in Biltmore Winter Garden c. 1930
Herbert Noble in Biltmore’s Winter Garden c. 1930

The Butler’s Log

Central to our research efforts is the Butler’s Log, meticulously maintained by Herbert Noble during the 1930s. This detailed account of the changes made within Biltmore House offers a treasure trove of information, from descriptions of room updates to insights into the removal and replacement of furnishings and décor that had been worn out, water damaged, or whatever the case may be. Often what he is moving out is the pieces of information that are most helpful.

Herbert recorded, “Leaks at some time had ruined the original paper which was dark green. As the blue draperies were so very faded and worn, I had new ones made for it of dark red damask…”

Edith standing in the Smoking Room
The wallpaper seen in this photo of Mrs. Vanderbilt matches a sample of wallpaper in storage, which assisted us in restoring the Smoking Room to its original state.

We took that information alongside a picture of Edith which shows a striped wallpaper on the wall behind her and found the same green striped wallpaper in our storage. This sample has since been sent off to be reproduced by Atelier D’Offard in Tours, France, who specializes in hand-blocked wallpapers as produced in the 18th and 19th centuries.. The same company who produced wallpapers for the Louis XV Suite.

Another entry states,”Mr. Cecil uses this room for a writing room.  He had the woodwork cleaned & oiled last year…Mr. Cecil had the backs of the cabinets painted yellow which shows up the birds so much more besides improving the appearance of the room.  The dark blue & red rug is from the Van Dyke room…  As this room had no draperies I hung a pair of velvet draperies in here.

A glimpse inside the Gun Room of Biltmore House as it undergoes preservation.

Digging deeper for information

While we had archival clues for the Smoking Room, the Gun Room required the team to start entirely from scratch. According to Lori Garst, Biltmore’s Curator of Collections, we had no archival drawings to use when planning the restoration of the Gun Room. Our research last summer focused on the function of late 19th  and early 20th-century gun rooms.  Based on the finishes in our gun room, we knew that the dirty work of cleaning the guns was done elsewhere.  Rather, Biltmore’s gun room, like others, was more of a gathering place where the men went to pick up their equipment for the afternoon’s shoot or fishing outing. 

Pardon our Preservation: Restoration of these rooms will be visible to guests through completion.

A mission of preservation

For Lori and the team, every preservation project is a chance to uncover and revive history. “Restoration projects at Biltmore uncover our past. Stories related to the spaces are revealed, and the original design details are uncovered. In the Smoking and Gun Room, we have both. When complete, the rooms will be completely transformed.”

We welcome you to see our ongoing preservation efforts of this National Historic Landmark for yourself during your next Biltmore visit.

Wedding Bells for John and Cornelia Cecil

Biltmore has witnessed countless celebrations over the last 129 years, but perhaps none so grand as the wedding of George and Edith Vanderbilt’s only child, Cornelia Stuyvesant Vanderbilt, to the Honorable John Francis Amherst Cecil.

April 29, 2024, marks the 100th anniversary of this monumental event. To celebrate, let’s take a look at John and Cornelia’s wedding by the numbers!

Escorted by her mother Edith, Cornelia Vanderbilt follows her bridesmaids into All Souls Church. April 29, 1924
Rachel Strong insisted on wearing a white organdy Lanvin gown with a full skirt, accented with a large white hat.
The bridesmaids wore green flowered crepe-de-chine dresses cut straight, accented by black and white hosiery and small white straw hats.
The flower girls wore white dresses with full skirts, ballet slippers, and butterfly necklaces gifted to them by Cornelia.
John Cecil’s groomsmen wore dark tuxedos with tails and could opt to wear spats.

Wedding bells are ringing

Cornelia Vanderbilt had eight bridesmaids. Among them were her school friends from Miss Madeira’s, cousins, cousins-to-be, and her best friend, Rachel “Bunchy” Strong, as maid of honor.

John Cecil had a matching eight ushers, including Hugh Tennant, his best man and superior officer at the British Embassy in Washington, DC. Several of his groomsmen were men he lived with upon arriving in the United States in 1923, a group known as the “British Bachelors.” Others included his cousin Robert Cecil, childhood friend Benjamin Bernard, and Cornelia’s cousin John Nicholas Brown.

The wedding party also included two flower girls: Helen Raoul and Peggy Morgan, both daughters of family friends in Asheville.

Guests wait for Cornelia and John Cecil wedding
Guests wait to enter All Souls Church. April 29, 1924

Quantifying the guest list

The Cecil wedding was a high-profile event celebrating the union of not only two individuals, but two countries.

The guest list reflected the prominence of both the Vanderbilt and Cecil families. It included aristocracy, diplomats, politicians, and socialites of both the United States and United Kingdom—all mingling with the estate’s residents and employees, for whom a section of All Souls Church was reserved.

In total, 500 people were invited to the ceremony held at All Souls Church, while another 2,500 received a separate invitation to attend just the reception at Biltmore. While many invitations were respectfully declined, the Cecil’s welcomed more than 1,000 attendees!

Biltmore House stands ready for wedding guests. April 29, 1924
Biltmore House stands ready for wedding guests. April 29, 1924

Renovations for accommodations

Although many guests stayed at Grove Park Inn, Biltmore Country Club, and Kenilworth Inn, those closest to Cornelia were invited to stay in Biltmore House. A group of 43 family members and friends occupied the 35 bedrooms—including the Oak Sitting Room, where members of the bridal party stayed together.

Because the wedding marked the most guests ever accommodated in the house at one time, preparations began as early as March 15, 1924—before the Cecils formally announced their engagement. Some rooms were renovated, while others were extensively cleaned before being furnished. That the house was ready for a record number of guests in just six weeks is a testament to the skill of Biltmore’s domestic staff.

Pollyann Foster greets John and Cornelia Cecil following their wedding. April 29, 1924
Pollyann Foster greets John and Cornelia Cecil following their wedding. April 29, 1924

Cupid’s innocent greeting

Following the wedding ceremony, 44 children of Biltmore Estate employees lined up outside All Souls Church. The newlyweds recessed from the church down an aisle formed by the children, each of whom held spring blossoms that they crossed to form an arch. At the end of this receiving line, they were greeted by Pollyann Foster, one of the estate’s youngest residents, dressed as Cupid.

Crossed flags, representing the bride and groom's nationalities, greeted guests in the Main Hall. April 29, 1924
Crossed flags, representing the bride and groom’s nationalities, greeted guests in the Main Hall. April 29, 1924

Two become one

As guests entered for the reception, they were greeted by two flags hanging in the Entrance Hall: an American Flag and a British Union Jack. During the wedding breakfast served at the reception, both God Save the King and The Star-Spangled Banner were played. The couple turned toward their respective flags as the national anthem of each country rang out, signifying the union of two countries through their marriage.

Keepsake cake with monogram details.
Keepsake cake with monogram details. “CVC” for Cornelia Vanderbilt Cecil and “JFAC” for John Francis Amherst Cecil.

Gifts of generosity

Guests of John and Cornelia Cecil celebrated the couple in style, lavishing them with thoughtful gifts. Among the wedding gifts were 70 pieces of silver, 53 pieces of china, 25 pieces of jewelry, 20 books, and two pieces of Tiffany glass.

Several notable gifts include a Jade Vanity Case, Jade Hatpin, and Amethyst Pendant. Not all gifts were opulent; servants of Biltmore House gifted heartwarming, homemade gifts–and even a puppy!

In return, Cornelia and John gifted their guests a sweet treat from Maison Rauscher of Washington.

Biltmore’s floral team displays a recreation of Cornelia and John’s wedding bell in the Tapestry Gallery.
The Honorable and Mrs. John F.A. Cecil pose beneath a large wedding bell displayed in the Tapestry Gallery.
Close-up view of the recreated wedding bell.

See a piece of history re-created!

In honor of the 100th anniversary, our Floral team re-created the massive floral wedding bell under which John and Cornelia Cecil stood in the Tapestry Gallery to receive their guests.

Covered in carnations and sweet peas, the decorative bell was on display, as part of our Spring at Biltmore celebrations.

Featured image: John and Cornelia Cecil leave All Souls Church under an arch of floral branches carried by estate children.

Through the Lens: Biltmore’s Most Instaworthy Moments

A day on Biltmore Estate in Asheville, NC is a photophile’s dream! No matter what style of photography you prefer, there’s always a place to #capturethemoment. We’ve found the most instaworthy spots; now all that’s left for you to do is get out your camera and point, tap, and shoot!

Sunflowers at Biltmore
Over 100,000 sunflowers will bloom in our sunflower field at the end of summer this year!

#FarmyardFriends

College of animals on Biltmore Grounds made for instaworthy blog.
One way we continue our farming legacy is by raising some of the same heritage breeds that were here during George Vanderbilt’s lifetime.

Everybody loves cute baby animals and spring is the prime time to meet the newest members of the Farmyard family. Kids will enjoy meeting our friendly farm animals, learning about life on the farm, and playing at the Pisgah Playground.

If a deeper understanding of Biltmore and agriculture is what you’re looking for, our Farm to Table Tour and Taste will take you to the rarely seen West Side of the estate, where our livestock is raised and our greenhouses thrive. You’ll get a ‘behind-the-scenes’ look at our Black Angus and Jersey beef cattle, Berkshire hogs, and Dorper sheep. If you’re lucky, you might even see their hardworking protectors, three Great Pyrenees.

#NaturalPerspective

Sometimes the best photos are taken off the beaten path. With over 22 miles of trails to explore, you’re sure to find your own instaworthy hidden gems among the forests and fields.

Bass Pond Bridge with children looking over the railing.
The Bass Pond offers a different perspective of Frederick Law Olmsted’s work on Biltmore Estate.

One of our favorite spots to explore and capture is the Bass Pond, situated at the end of Biltmore’s formal gardens. Although it may be a bit of a walk, the charm of its scenery makes it well worth it. A rustic boathouse stands on the shore, and a bridge spans the waterfall at the far end. It’s the perfect spot for photographing instaworthy seasonal color changes and birdwatching all year long.

Couple hiking on Biltmore Grounds.
Get lost in the natural wonder of Biltmore’s 8,000 acres.

If you’re up for a challenge, we highly recommend exploring the Westover Trails for a deeper look at the Birthplace of American Forestry. The black route totals 3.5 miles round-trip, taking you deep into the beautiful woodlands of Biltmore Estate. Great for technical bike riding and an advanced hiking experience, it’s also a wonderful area to get that instaworthy photo of local flora and fauna. Just remember to put your comfy shoes on; this one’s a doozy!

#SipandSavor

H. Angel Cocktail photo from Library Lounge for Blog
Stop by The Library Lounge at The Inn on Biltmore Estate for a #buzzworthy view! Photo courtesy of Heather Angel.

Are you a foodie that moonlights as a shutterbug? You’ll find delicious treats all across the estate! Stop by our Wine Bar in Antler Hill Village for a glass of our award-winning red, white, and rosé Biltmore Wines and expertly paired charcuterie or locally-crafted chocolates! For mouthwatering menus to share with your followers, be sure to visit one (or more!) of our seven restaurants; each featuring a selection of our estate-raised specialties bursting with flavor and vivid colors of the season’s fresh-grown herbs and vegetables.

View from near the Inn.
Photo courtesy of Camryn Glackin of Coral & Charm

#SecretSpot! Just steps away from The Dining Room (our four-star dining experience) at The Inn on Biltmore Estate, you’ll find this serene lookout spot. George Vanderbilt was enamored with the rolling hills and Blue Ridge Mountains backdrop, and so are we. One of the most peaceful moments on the estate can be seen in the wee hours of the morning when the fog gently settles within the crevices of the hills.

#BiltmoreBlooms

Spring and summer are our most brightly colored seasons, but Biltmore’s gardens and grounds boast year-round beauty. Grab your cameras and stop to smell the tulips – and the azaleas, roses, orchids, daffodils; the list goes on and on!

Couple walking in the tulips
Tiptoe through the tulips with your loved ones.

The Walled Garden is a guest favorite during Spring at Biltmore. This festival of flowers marks the blooming of our 100,000 bulbs planted estate-wide. You’ll find 50,000 tulips, 14,000 daffodils, 1,000 hyacinths, and a variety of other flowers and shrubs. During the summer months, the beds transform with towering tropical plants,

Make your way down the paths to our soaring glass-ceilinged Conservatory for a one-of-a-kind display of lush, exotic, and tropical plants. Macro photographers will be in heaven with eye-level plants around every corner.

Library Terrace View.
Wisteria thrives with robust support, much like the sturdy crafted latticework it is holding onto.

Situated near Biltmore House are two distinctive pergolas covered in eye-catching wisteria that blooms each spring; one on the Library Terrace and one just below the South Terrace. The scent of wisteria in full bloom is intoxicating and the light purple blooms flutter in the breeze! Take a seat on one of the benches and point your camera skyward. The Wisteria reaches out to greet your lens, beckoning for that #pictureperfect moment.

Italian Garden Pool.
Our night-blooming lilies reach their peak bloom in the early morning and close completely by noon.

Right beside the Library Terrace of Biltmore House is the Italian Garden. Each spring and summer, numerous varieties of exotic water lilies, tropical bananas, papyrus, and other plants and flowers bloom in the water garden. The different colors and varieties create a mosaic effect for the koi fish to swim among. Although it’s one of the most visited areas of the estate, many guests don’t realize that it remains astoundingly faithful to the original design from 1895.

#Instagood

Biltmore House from High Lawn for instaworthy blog.

One of the most iconic views of America’s Largest Home® can be captured from the lower and high lawn atop the Rampe Douce. You’re going to want to get out your wide-angle lens for this view! Biltmore House stands in all its glory with the rolling Blue Ridge Mountains just behind. It’s also a picture-perfect location to sprawl out on a warm day with a picnic basket and a bottle of Biltmore Wines!

#TravelGoals… Plan Your Visit Today!

You only live once, right? Are you ready to experience all the special instaworthy moments Biltmore has to offer? Reserve your visit and be sure to tag @biltmoreestate #biltmore when you share your memories on social!

Tip: Be sure to review Biltmore’s photography policies before your visit.

Spring at Biltmore: A Delight for the Senses

As Biltmore awakens from its wintertime slumber, a wonderland for the senses unfolds across our mountain oasis. Discover some of our favorite ways to delight all five of your senses this spring with a visit to Biltmore Estate in Asheville, NC.

Installation from Chihuly at Biltmore, March 25, 2024 – January 5, 2025 at Amherst. Dale Chihuly, Persian Ceiling, 2012, 25 x 15′, Biltmore, Asheville, North Carolina, installed 2024 © 2012 Chihuly Studio. All rights reserved.

Must-see masterpieces

Spring offers up an everchanging visual kaleidoscope of color as our historic landscapes bloom weekly with the vibrant hues of tulips, daffodils, azaleas, and rhododendrons! Plus, every spring, Biltmore’s Floral team displays special arrangements throughout Biltmore House inspired by the gardens in bloom.

This beauty extends far beyond our garden walls to Chihuly at Biltmore, presented in our gallery setting at Amherst at Deerpark® premiering March 25, 2024. Dale Chihuly’s renowned works will leave you breathless as you experience the stunning fusion of vibrant hues and dynamic shapes of his pedestal works, Drawings, and large-scale installations of ChandeliersTowersMille Fiori, and Neon.

Tip: Chihuly at Biltmore is an awe-inspiring experience for families and guests of all ages. That said, due to the nature of the exhibition, all guests under the age of 16 must be accompanied by an adult.

Young girl sniffing tulips in Biltmore gardens
Take a moment to stop and smell the Tulips in Biltmore Gardens.

Fragrances and flavors to savor

This time of year, it feels like the air is transforming right beneath your nose! Be sure to stop and smell the flowers during your springtime stroll through Biltmore’s historic gardens and grounds.

The scents of our gardens and grounds in bloom seamlessly intertwine with Biltmore’s award-winning wines and estate-grown farm-to-table fare.

As you swirl, sniff, sip, and savor our favorite spring wines, make note of the distinctive tasting notes and fragrances, expertly crafted by our Winemakers. Once your palette is warmed up, consider indulging in a guided Red Wine & Chocolate Tasting to help you discover why chocolate and red wine are a match made in heaven.

George Vanderbilt’s vision of a self-sustaining estate extends past our wines. Biltmore remains a working farm, producing field crops, pastured beef, lamb, pork, and eggs from chickens, to be served in restaurants across the estate. Recreate the dishes you loved during your visit with seasonal recipes and Biltmore’s gourmet foods delivered right to your door when you shop online.

Family listens to audio guide while standing in Biltmore's Banquet Hall
Hear the stories of this grand estate with an all-new Biltmore House audio guide in spring 2024!

The sounds of Spring at Biltmore

Discover the stories of this National Historic Landmark and the people who lived and worked here over a century ago as you listen to an all-new audio guide for Biltmore House, coming in mid-April! If it’s been a while since you last explored America’s Largest Home, this spring will be a perfect time to come back to discover new and favorite stories.

Dig even deeper into the stories of this opulent home by upgrading your visit to include an expert-guided tour.

For spring break getaways and holidays, be sure to check our activities listing for special live music and events around the estate.

Baby goat jumps off of a log in Antler Hill Village.
Meet the bouncing baby animals at our Farmyard each spring.

Hands-on learning and adventure

Our expert guides are ready to help you discover educational, fun, and adventurous activities that fit your interests and abilities. Embark on a hike across Biltmore’s expansive grounds or coast along the winding gravel paths while the beauty of the landscape unfolds on one of our Guided Bike Rides.  

Or take it slow and grab the reins to connect with Biltmore’s history with a One-Hour Carriage Ride that offers breathtaking Blue Ridge mountain views and a rarely-seen view of the west façade.

Just like clockwork, the animals that call Biltmore home welcome cuddly youngsters every spring. Visit Antler Hill Village for a deeper look at Biltmore’s legacy as a working farm. The Farmyard offers a kid-friendly introduction to farm life and the animals that are an integral part of our self-sustaining estate.

Our Farm to Table Tour & Taste experience (available exclusively to overnight guests and Passholders) offers even more in-depth discovery of Biltmore’s farming legacy and how that connects to our modern field-to-table philosophy.

Be sure to swing by Antler Hill Barn for fascinating demonstrations of Appalachian crafts, like broom-making, that are part of our estate history, naturalist talks, and more.

Japanese magnolia and forsythia bloom outside of The Inn on Biltmore Estate each spring.

Surround yourself with spring

With a sensory treat around every corner, we invite you to fully immerse yourself in the unique experiences that await you this spring. Imagine waking to awe-inspiring Blue Ridge Mountain views and the scent of crisp spring air just outside your door.

Plan your spring getaway now with admission and overnight stay packages featuring Chihuly at Biltmore, guided activities, and more. And, with so much to see, taste, smell, and do this year, spring is a perfect time of year to become a Biltmore Annual Passholder!

Crowdsourcing Our 2018 Christmas Wine Labels

Ready to pour on the cheer this holiday season? Nothing says “Christmas” like the festive labels on each bottle of our Christmas at Biltmore wine!

“In previous years, we held a competition for artists to share their interpretation of what Christmas at Biltmore means to them,” said Jill Whitfield, Wine Marketing Manager. “We chose several finalists, then asked our online audience to vote for their favorite design.”

Shaking it up

For 2018, Biltmore Wines decided to shake things up a bit. Instead of asking artists to submit their work, they asked our Facebook followers to help them develop this year’s Christmas wine labels, one step at a time.

Step one

“First, we worked with Biltmore’s art team to create a pair of mood boards,” Jill explained. “One featured #Natural elements (a celebration of the natural side of Christmas with warm vintage details and rustic textures inspired by the organic beauty of the great outdoors); the other was #Splendor (setting a splendid tone for the holiday season with dazzling displays of lustrous lights, glamorous metallic elements, and hints of pure opulence). We then posted them on Facebook and asked our fans and followers to vote for their favorite mood.”

Natural mood board

Mood board featuring natural elements

Step two

For the second phase of voting, Lisa Vogel, Art Director, created two more collections so voters could choose between themes representing a daytime mood with sunshine and outdoor activities and a twilight theme in which you might see woodland animals come out to play.

Facebook fans were up for the challenge, but made it clear they liked both mood boards.

Asheville artist Bryan Koontz sketches wine labelsThe artist begins sketching label designs

“Our plan was to have Asheville artist Bryan Koontz take inspiration from the winning elements and create an original painting based on them,” said Lisa, “but it quickly became obvious that voters didn’t want to choose just one design

Theme boards with daylight and starlight options

Round two of Facebook voting featured #Daytime and #Starlight options

And the winner of this years Christmas wine labels is…

What happened next? “We paid attention to all the votes and all the comments,” Jill said, “and decided to produce two Christmas at Biltmore wines!”

Lucky for Biltmore and our online voters, Bryan was happy to double his workload and paint not one but two pieces of art that would become the 2018 Christmas wine labels.

Bryan Koontz paints the Biltmore labels
Bryan Koontz painting a nightime scene for the Christmas at Biltmore Red Wine label

The finished labels celebrate the natural daytime (white wine) and evening (red wine) splendor of this special season at Biltmore.

“The voters made it clear what they wanted,” said Jill, “and that’s why crowdsourcing is such a great way to engage your audience—it gives your most loyal followers a voice in what you’re creating for them.”

Christmas at Biltmore Red Wine and White Wine labelsPour on the cheer with Biltmore wines

Purchase any of our fine wines—including Christmas at Biltmore Red Wine (soft and fruit-forward with flavors of berry and spice to complement holiday dishes including ham, turkey, and blackberry pie à la mode) and Christmas at Biltmore White Wine (fragrant and semi-sweet with flavors of apricot, spice and citrus to pair with seasonal favorites like sweet potato casserole, apple pie, and pumpkin pie)—at estate shops or online.

Host a Sizzling Summer White Party!

Ready to host a sizzling summer white party? Our estate wine experts have some great tips to help you make the most of the season.

“From the Hamptons to Los Angeles, well-known fashion and entertainment celebrities have been hosting elegant ‘white parties’ every summer for many years. With all-white clothing and décor, these iconic events are a celebration of everything warm weather-related and summer-worthy—including white wines,” said Alisha Forester, Sales Director for Biltmore Wines.

Dining table set with white linens and white flowers.
Will your summer white party be an indoor or outdoor affair?

1. Find the perfect spot

Start by choosing your location first, as that sets the tone for your summer white party.

  • Gardens and patios with easy access to the indoors make for a great party, and hosting your event poolside makes a big splash!
  • For outdoor parties, make sure you have a backup plan for weather, plenty of shade, and other conveniences for your guests.

Tip: Create classic summer white party style with all-white décor, which can be as simple as white tablecloths and white flowers, especially if you’re celebrating outdoors.

Biltmore Estate sparkling wines being poured in a vineyard during a summer white party.
Sparkling wines are a must-have for your summer white party!

2. Select some white wines

It’s not a summer white party without your favorite Biltmore white wines, and we handcraft wonderful options from still to sparkling.

Try these easy white flights–we’ve already arranged the wines for you in order from lighter styles to those with more body:

  • Dry white flight: Biltmore Estate® Pinot Grigio, Biltmore Estate® Limited Release Sauvignon Blanc, Biltmore Estate® Chardonnay, and Biltmore® Reserve North Carolina Chardonnay.
  • Sweet white flight: Biltmore Estate® Limited Release Gewürztraminer, Biltmore Estate® Limited Release Orange Muscat, Century Sweet White, Biltmore Estate® Limited Release Chenin Blanc.
  • Sparkling white flight: Biltmore Estate® Brut, Biltmore Estate® Château Reserve Blanc de Blancs, Biltmore Estate® Blanc de Blancs, Biltmore Estate® Blanc de Noir.

Tip: Keep the party kid-friendly with plenty of Biltmore Sparkling White Grape Juice, available in estate gift shops.

Panna Cotta with Grapefruit Gelée
Panna Cotta with Grapefruit Gelée is a fresh twist on a classic dessert that’s perfect for your summer white party!

3. Pair a signature dish with white wine

Delight your guests with this fresh citrusy twist on classic Italian panna cotta with a surprising ingredient: goat cheese. With its characteristic rich flavor, creamy texture, and a bright pop of color, Panna Cotta with Grapefruit Gelée is perfect for an indulgent summer white party treat!

Panna Cotta with Grapefruit Gelée

Gelée

  • ¾ cup fresh-squeezed grapefruit juice
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons (1 packet) unflavored gelatin powder

Combine grapefruit juice, sugar, and gelatin powder in a small sauce pan. Whisk well and bring to a boil. Pour 1 ounce of the juice mixture into each of 6 (4-ounce) ramekins. Place the ramekins in the refrigerator to chill until firm, at least 30 minutes.

Panna Cotta

  • 3 cups heavy cream
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 7 teaspoons (3½ packets) unflavored gelatin powder
  • 14 ounces goat cheese, softened

Combine heavy cream, sugar, and gelatin powder in a medium saucepan. Whisk well and bring to a boil, then immediately remove from heat. Add the softened goat cheese to the mixture and continue to whisk until completely smooth.

Divide the goat cheese panna cotta mixture evenly among the ramekins. Pour it over the firmly set grapefruit gelée and refrigerate until set, at least 1 hour.

Run a knife between the panna cotta and the ramekin to release and invert onto a plate. If the panna cotta won’t come out, turn it upside down and run hot tap water over the bottom of the ramekin for 30–60 seconds, then gently tap onto a plate

Tip: Crisp, sparkling Biltmore Estate® Brut with notes of citrus, strawberry, honey, and apricot is a perfect partner for Panna Cotta with Grapefruit Gelée.

Man and woman toast with white wine at a summer white party in a vineyard.
Celebrate your summer white party with Biltmore Wines!

4. Celebrate your summer white party

Once you’ve chosen your location, selected the Biltmore wines you’ll serve, and created the perfect menu, what’s left?

Don your favorite all-white outfit and invite friends and family to join you for a wonderful summer celebration!

Cheers!

Shedding New Light on Biltmore’s Butterfly Garden

Chihuly At Biltmore Was On Display From May 17 To October 7, 2018.
Please Enjoy This Archived Content.
 

Just before the Conservatory in the historic Walled Garden is Biltmore’s Butterfly Garden. With the installation of Chihuly at Biltmore—featuring “Cattails and Copper Birch Reeds” in this space—let’s take a closer look at its history and the history of the plants within it. 

According to Bill Alexander, our Landscape and Forest Historian, the area now known as the Butterfly Garden was actually left blank on landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted’s original plans for the Walled Garden (which was then referred to as the Vegetable and Flower Garden).

About 30 years ago, the Walled Garden supervisor and her crew leader at the time asked Bill about the possibility of creating a garden for butterflies in the space.

It was an ideal location for such a garden. The ample amount of sunlight would provide desired warmth for the cold-blooded creatures, while the surrounding walls and exterior of the Conservatory offered the fragile beings protection from wind.

Bill agreed to the request with one paramount requirement: The flowers and herbs in the Butterfly Garden must draw heavily from Olmsted’s original list of plants used in the surrounding area.

Luckily enough, many of those historic plants offer bright foliage and vibrant blooms that produce nectar throughout the season—which makes them perfect for attracting butterflies.

This summer, guests and butterflies alike can enjoy almost a dozen plants original to the space:

– Wild Indigo (Baptisia australis)
– Tickseed (Coreopsis)
– Joe Pye Weed (Eupatorium purpureum)
– Willowleaf Sunflower (Helianthus salicifolius)
– Blazing Star (Liatris spicata)
– Alpine Poppy (Papaver alpinum)
– Fountaingrass (Pennisetum)
– Creeping Phlox (Phlox subulata)
– Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia)
– Sage (Salvia)
– Goldenrod (Solidago)

Peak bloom for the Butterfly Garden is mid to late summer, when most butterflies are active.

Join us and discover these beautiful historic plants in our Butterfly Garden as well as Chihuly’s unique glass sculptures that so perfectly complement the special space.

Fabulous Fashion Find Yields Titanic Results

With our new exhibition Glamour on Board: Fashion from Titanic the Movie, we are celebrating not only the 20th anniversary of the iconic film that won 11 Oscars®, including Best Picture and Best Costume Design, but also the elegant wardrobes favored by transatlantic travelers in the early 1900s. On display in Biltmore House February 9–May 13, 2018, this exhibition is the first large-scale display of the original Titanic costumes and will showcase the exquisite detail meticulously recreated for these award-winning fashions. Just as portrayed in the movie, long days at sea fostered friendships and romances, including George Vanderbilt’s courtship of Edith Stuyvesant Dresser.


Planning the exhibition

In planning the exhibition, members of our Museum Services team wanted to ensure that guests understood the historical significance of Edwardian fashion as it pertained to Biltmore and the Vanderbilt family.

Leslie Klingner, Curator of Interpretation, conducted specific research related to the costume designers who created the glamorous gowns and dashing suits worn by the principal actors–as well as the extraordinary number of extras–in Titanic. Leslie learned that many of the costumes were original fashions from the era purchased for use in the film; others were created using original elements to make them look and feel as close as possible to authentic clothing of the era.

“While researching, I came across information indicating that the memorable striped ‘arrival suit’ worn by Kate Winslet’s character Rose as she boards Titanic for the first time was a direct reproduction from the January 1912 issue of Les Modes magazine,” said Leslie. “Knowing that Les Modes was a popular fashion magazine of the period, I wondered if we could find another institution that held that particular issue in order to reproduce the original fashion plate for comparison with the costume.”

January 1912 Les Modes fashion magazine features a costume later used in the film Titanic
A fabulously fashionable discovery

Leslie asked Lauren Henry, Associate Curator, for assistance with the search, and that’s when Lauren made a fabulous fashion find: Edith Vanderbilt not only read Les Modes, she kept a number of issues that are still in our archives–including the January 1912 edition!

“The magazines themselves are gorgeous,” Leslie said. “The covers are printed using a very refined technique called pochoir. This specialized process used a stencil-based method of printing that produced crisp lines and brilliant colors and was often used to illustrate fashion magazines like Les Modes,” explained Leslie. “The issues in our archives have metallic gold highlights on the covers and are in remarkable condition. Many look just as lovely as they would have when they were new!”

Fashion spread featuring five dresses in the April 1911 issue of Les Modes
Titanic
connections

We’ve always known that Edith Vanderbilt was considered a trendsetter when it came to fashion, but with the discovery of this treasure trove of magazines, we now know one of the ways she kept up with the latest Parisian styles on a monthly basis. In fact, she may have looked at the very dress in 1912 that would be used to express the height of haute couture more than a century later in the film Titanic. In another twist of fate, George and Edith Vanderbilt would make plans to travel aboard the ill-fated ship just a few months later, and though their personal arrangements were changed before Titanic sailed, a member of their household staff was lost in the tragedy.

Discover The Vanderbilts at Home and Abroad

Opening in March 2018, The Vanderbilts at Home and Abroad exhibit, located in The Biltmore Legacy in Antler Hill Village, will further showcase the lives of the Vanderbilts as well as treasures collected during their world travels.

Featured image: (L-R) April 1912 and February 1913 covers of Les Modes magazines from Biltmore’s archives

First image: Leslie Klinger displays the large striped hat that accompanies the ‘arrival suit’ worn by Kate Winslet’s character Rose in Titanic

Second image: January 1912 Les Modes photograph featuring original design which inspired the ‘arrival dress’ used in the film Titanic (magazine from Biltmore archives)

Third image: April 1911 Les Modes fashion spread featuring five original gowns from the time period in which Titanic is set (magazine from Biltmore archives)

Olmsted’s Groundbreaking Work: Gardens and Glass

Chihuly At Biltmore Was On Display From May 17 To October 7, 2018.
Please Enjoy This Archived Content.

Long known as the father of American landscape architecture, Frederick Law Olmsted reached the pinnacle of his professional career with his landscape design for Biltmore–George Vanderbilt’s magnificent private estate.

Portrait of Olmsted by John Singer SargentA vision for the future

In addition to developing the extensive plans for Biltmore, Olmsted was a true visionary–looking ahead more than a century to understand how his designs would mature to create a stunning setting for America’s Largest Home® that future generations would continue to preserve.

From gardens filled with glorious blooms to carefully managed forest lands, Olmsted’s genius is recognized around the world and his contributions to the art and science of landscaping continue to be celebrated.

First in Forestry plaque with Gifford PinchotThe success of Olmsted’s protégées is also directly attributable to his mentorship, from Biltmore’s first forest manager Gifford Pinchot’s who went on to serve as the first chief of the U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service to Chauncey Beadle, Biltmore’s estate supervisor who managed and nurtured Olmsted’s designs for more than 50 years.

Masterpieces in gardens and glass
From May 17–October 7, 2018, Biltmore will host Chihuly at Biltmore, the first-ever art exhibition in our historic gardens. This exhibition features the works of globally-renowned artist Dale Chihuly set in the living backdrop of gardens that remain true to Frederick Law Olmsted’s design intent.

Just as Olmsted is known as a leader in the development of landscape architecture, Chihuly is leader in the development of glass as a fine art and he is celebrated for amazing architectural installations combining brilliant colors and striking forms that have entranced viewers worldwide. Chihuly at Biltmore features awe-inspiring artworks in both Biltmore House & Gardens and Antler Hill Village.

Dazzling by daytime, the exhibition sparkles during Chihuly Nights at Biltmore, when the sculptures are illuminated to showcase their spectacular colors and shapes.

The Conservatory at BiltmorePlan your visit now

Chihuly at Biltmore is included in your estate admission. The dramatic experience of Chihuly Nights at Biltmore requires a separate ticket purchase and is offered on select evenings by reservation only.

Featured blog image: Biltmore’s Walled Garden
— First image: Frederick Law Olmsted portrait by John Singer Sargent, located in Second Floor Living Hall of Biltmore House
— Second image: First in Forestry plaque at Biltmore, featuring Gifford Pinchot
— Third image: The Conservatory at Biltmore, which will feature several of Chihuly’s
Chandeliers during the exhibition

Capture Holiday Memories Forever

At Biltmore, we believe the holidays are a perfect time to slow down and rediscover the wonder of the season—to reconnect with family and friends the way the Vanderbilts did more than a century ago.

Framed family recipe

The holidays are also a wonderful time to make memories, and custom-framed photos or other keepsakes are the perfect gift to give or receive. For most unique and thoughtful gifts of the season, visit your local frame shop for help in creating something truly special. Need ideas? Here are our top picks to delight family and friends!

Savored Recipes

Display a cherised family recipe—and reference it easily—by framing the heirloom. Gift the piece to a family member or choose to  display it in your own kitchen.

Childhood Memories

Capture the smallest details of the newest member of the family for a lovely, one-of-a-kind treasure that can be handed down through the generations. Preserve baby handprints and footprints on archival paper or use a favorite bib or photo in a custom frame.

Wedded Bliss

For your first Christmas as a married couple, consider gifting loved ones with a beautiful wedding photo—perhaps one that includes the recipient. Silver, champagne-like tones work particularly well for custom framing wedding photos because metallic hints add an extra touch of richness that echoes the elegance of your special day.

Framed wedding photo

Family Portrait

Nothing says Christmas like a family portrait—especially one that features several generations together. Gather grandparents, parents, and grandkids for a classic photo by the fireplace or Christmas tree, or find a candid shot from a past multi-generational vacation. Choose a custom frame that enhances the image and give the framed photo to every member of the family.

Showcase your Travels

Bring a special journey to life all over again with a custom-frame shadowbox. A knowledgeable framer can help you choose the right height to make the most of the items you want to highlight, while professional framing and glass choices can also keep special items from further deterioration and damage.

Return to SenderHoliday living room scene

Choose a favorite Christmas card from someone special, add a custom frame that enhances the subject, and give it as a special holiday gift to the original sender.

Sharing Santa

Go through old and new holiday photos with an eye for images of the children with Santa. Frame a vintage picture of Mom or Dad on Santa’s lap together with a current shot of kids or grandkids. Even when the holidays have ended, you can enjoy charming memories year-round.

Shop your local frame shop and discover four exclusive Biltmore frame collections inspired by the house and grounds, all suitable for showcasing your fondest memories.