Crowdsourcing Biltmore’s 2019 Christmas Wine Labels

Ready to pour on the cheer this holiday season? We’re excited to share the process of crowdsourcing our 2019 Christmas at Biltmore® Wine labels!

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

Crowdsourcing for creativity

In 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 that year’s Christmas label, one step at a time.

It worked so well that we decided to repeat the process of crowdsourcing our 2019 Christmas at Biltmore Wine labels.

Creating mood boards

Mood boards with frosty and cozy themes

Mood boards featuring #Frosty and #Cozy elements

“First, we worked with Biltmore’s art team to create a pair of mood boards,” Jill explained. “One featured #Frosty elements including a palette of cool, wintry colors and silvery metallics. The other was #Cozy, with warmer tones and sparkling gold ornaments. We then posted them on Facebook and asked our fans and followers to vote for their favorite mood.” 

Setting the tone

For the second phase of voting, Lisa Vogel, Art Director, pulled together two “tone” boards so voters could choose between themes representing a #Vintage look represented by an old-fashioned Christmas card and a #Modern look with a clean graphic feel.

Facebook fans liked both of the themes, but their final preference was for #Vintage.

Theme boards with #Modern and #Vintage elements

Boards with #Contemporary and #Vintage themes

Crowd favorite

With the mood and theme decided, it was time to get Asheville artist Jeff Pittman involved in the project. He drew inspiration from the boards to create two representations of Biltmore on which Facebook followers would have the final vote.

Both #Vista and #Reflections were popular, but #Reflections—featuring the west façade of Biltmore House on the hill above the Lagoon—was the winner.

Jeff refined the initial #Reflections painting he created with more detail and a few more festive touches. “Everyone loved both of Jeff Pittman’s offerings” said Lisa, “but I think it may have been the peaceful pair of Canadian geese crossing the Lagoon that made #Reflections such a crowd favorite!”

Paintings showing different views of Biltmore House

Jeff Pittman’s two representations of a Biltmore Christmas scene

Creating original artwork

What happened next?

“Jeff went to work in his studio,” Lisa said, “and created the final artwork that would become the labels for our 2019 Christmas at Biltmore Red Wine and Christmas at Biltmore White Wine.”

Asheville artist Jeff Pitman painting the 2019 Biltmore Christmas Wine label

Jeff Pittman at work on the 2019 Christmas at Biltmore Wine label

The finished label celebrates the natural 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.”

Finished painting for the 2019 Biltmore Christmas wine label

Finished artwork in Jeff’s studio

Join us at the Winery on the following dates in November and December to meet artist Jeff Pittman and have your bottles of Christmas at Biltmore Red Wine and Christmas at Biltmore White Wine signed by him.

Meet the artist

  • November 8, 4 p.m.–6 p.m.
  • December 13, 4 p.m.–6 p.m.

Pour on the cheer with Biltmore wines

Christmas tree with Biltmore wines and desserts

Choose any of our fine wines for holiday celebrations

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 holiday dishes like sweet potato casserole, apple pie, and pumpkin pie)—at estate shops or online

8 Great Reasons to Visit Biltmore This Fall

Fall is prime vacation time for those who love “leaf-peeping,” and Biltmore offers the best Blue Ridge Mountains views around. The estate’s ever-changing autumnal color, plus its many seasonal activities and offerings, make it the perfect home base for a fall trip.

Here are 8 great reasons to make Biltmore the center of your getaway:

Biltmore House & Gardens in fall
Fall view of Biltmore House & Gardens

1. Location, Location, Location!

Nestled in the mountains of Western North Carolina, Biltmore is located minutes from downtown Asheville—a vibrant city known for great dining, quaint shops, and its strong arts community—and just a few miles from the Blue Ridge Parkway. In addition to your visit to Biltmore House & Gardens, you could easily spend several days enjoying the surrounding area.

Rooftop view from Biltmore House

2. Rooftop Tour of America’s Largest Home®

Discover spectacular views boasting every shade of fall color as far as the eye can see. This 60-minute guided tour offers wildly impressive photo ops—during autumn, especially—and provides a closer look at the design and construction of Biltmore House in areas that many guests never visit.

Bass Pond Bridge in Fall at Biltmore
Bass Pond Bridge in fall

3. Legacy of the Land Tour

Take a motor coach tour of the estate and learn about the history of the land, structures, and former residents with our exciting Legacy of the Land Tour. Enjoy the glorious fall foliage all around you as you visit areas not usually open to guests.

Carriage and horses
Deerpark Carriage & Trail Ride Barn

4. Deerpark Carriage & Trail Ride Barn

Located in the heart of the estate, this historic structure is the headquarters for Biltmore’s Carriage Rides and Horseback Trail Rides. Whether you prefer a relaxing journey in an elegant carriage or a western-style adventure on a horse that suits your riding style, few things are as majestic as traveling our woodland trails enveloped in fall color.

Fall music in Antler Hill Village
Live music in Antler Hill Village

5. Live Music Daily

Biltmore turns up the volume with live music daily at the Bandstand in Antler Hill Village! Enjoy special evening performers at Cedric’s Tavern, and on Friday and Saturday evenings throughout the season, join us for Live After Five featuring energetic jazz and pop bands, casual dining options, and gorgeous sunsets, making it the perfect way for the whole family to unwind at the end of a fun-filled day on the estate.

Holiday decor inspired by Biltmore
Holiday decor inspired by Biltmore

6. Get Ready for the Holidays!

After strolling through a kaleidoscope of colors in the Walled Garden, join Biltmore floral design experts at A Gardener’s Place shop beneath the Conservatory for Illuminated Holiday Tablescapes–a complimentary demonstration offered daily on creating a stunning holiday tabletop centerpiece by combining natural elements such as plants, pinecones, and twigs with festive holiday ornaments and lights.

7. Vineyard Harvest Season

Grapes ripening in the vineyard
Grapes ripening in Biltmore’s vineyard

Biltmore’s bounty takes center stage at the Winery in Antler Hill Village as we celebrate a successful harvest season. Savor complimentary tastings of more than 20 handcrafted wines, plus specialty wine experiences such as our Behind-the-Scenes Winery Tour & Tasting to see how science and nature intersect as you learn about the estate’s vineyards, discover the unique factors that affect grapes grown in North Carolina, and take an in-depth look at our winemaking process.

Guests arriving at The Inn on Biltmore Estate during Fall
Guests arriving at The Inn on Biltmore Estate

8. The Ultimate Fall Getaway

An overnight stay at Biltmore offers the unique experience of waking up on George Vanderbilt’s estate with autumn beauty just outside your door. Enjoy warm hospitality in a relaxed and welcoming atmosphere at the charming Village Hotel on Biltmore Estate®, or experience world-class service with a luxurious four-star stay at The Inn on Biltmore Estate®.  

Plan your visit today and discover for yourself why Biltmore is the perfect home base for your fall getaway.

Discover Biltmore Wines From Grape to Glass

How do we select the finest fruit for Biltmore wines? Here’s an overview of the process, from grape to glass!

Sourcing fine North Carolina vintages

In his book Lady On The Hill, George Vanderbilt’s grandson William A.V. Cecil noted that “Asheville was about the same latitude as Gibraltar in the Mediterranean, and with an altitude between 2,100 and 2,500 feet, the fields of the estate would enjoy warm days and cool nights in the summer.”

While the climate of Western North Carolina is not nearly as predictable as that of the Mediterranean or other major grape-growing regions, when conditions are right, the fruit produced in our estate vineyards is exceptional and earns the Biltmore Reserve label for our finest North Carolina vintages.

To ensure we can meet the growing demand for Biltmore wines, however, we also look to our local vineyard partners in Polk County—a lower-elevation region just south of Asheville that experiences slightly warmer temperatures with less danger of late season frost damage.

Guests enjoying a visit to Biltmore's vineyards on the west side of the estate
Guests enjoying a visit to Biltmore’s vineyards on the west side of the estate

Beyond Biltmore

We also look to our west coast partners for the quality and consistency of grapes needed to handcraft our award-winning wines. Several times each year, Biltmore winemaker Sharon Fenchak schedules extended visits to California to meet with our growing partners and select outstanding vintages for Biltmore wines. 

“Some of the finest American wine grapes come from the vineyards of coastal California,” Sharon said. “The terroir—the different combinations of weather and soil in each hill and valley—translate into the distinctive flavors and qualities that characterize the wines of that region.”

View of one of our partner vineyards in California
View of one of our partner vineyards in California

California’s Northern Coast

This large wine grape-growing region is located north of San Francisco, with a maritime climate that is affected by cool fogs and breezes from the Pacific Ocean. Some of California’s best-known American Viticultural Areas (AVAs), including Alexander Valley, Dry Creek Valley, Lake County, Napa, and Russian River Valley, are located here. 

“This AVA is an important one for our Vanderbilt Reserve series,” said Sharon. “We select grapes from outstanding partner vineyards for some of our most distinctive wines, including our Vanderbilt Reserve Pinot Noir Russian River Valley, Vanderbilt Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon Alexander Valley, Vanderbilt Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon Dry Creek Valley 2016, and The Hunt Red Blend Sonoma County.” 

The Hunt label features the finely wrought engraving on an August Francotte shotgun in Biltmore's original collection
The Hunt label features the finely wrought engraving on an August Francotte shotgun in Biltmore’s original collection

California’s Central Coast

Stretching from San Francisco Bay south to Santa Barbara County, this region offers a warmer climate that still benefits from the cooling influences of the Pacific Ocean. We partner with vineyards from such prestigious AVAs as Arroyo Seco, Cienega Valley, Monterey, and Paso Robles.

“Some of the more unusual varietals we choose from partner vineyards here include Barbera, Marsanne, Mourvedre, Rousanne, and Tempranillo,” Sharon noted.

Washington

A wide range of grapes are now being grown in the fertile valleys of Washington, making the state an important producer of outstanding wine varietals. Vineyards are found primarily in the eastern half of the state that benefits from a dryer shrub-steppe ecosystem and the rain shadow of the Cascade Range. The state experiences long hours of daylight—approximately two more hours per day during the growing season than California—and milder, more consistent temperatures. 

“We are excited to be working with some great partner vineyards in Washington,” said Sharon. “We’re selecting a lot of excellent grapes for our American Series and Limited Release Series wines.”

Handcrafting our award-winning wines

While Sharon and her team handcraft the majority of our wines from start to finish at Biltmore’s Winery in Asheville, North Carolina, our Vanderbilt Reserve wines and Antler Hill wines are created in the particular region where they were grown. This painstaking process is overseen—from selecting the vintage and expressing the varietal character to aging the wine—by Sharon during her visits to California. 

“All our wines represent the Vanderbilt family’s legacy of gracious hospitality on which Biltmore was founded,” Sharon said, “and as Biltmore’s winemaker, I am committed to handcrafting our wines with the philosophy of keeping each one true to varietal character and consistent from vintage to vintage. Whether I’m at work in North Carolina or California or Washington, I’m focused on creating wines that reflect the quality of this family-owned estate and Winery.”

Just a few of the more than 50 Biltmore wine selections available at the estate or online
Just a few of the more than 50 Biltmore wine selections available at the estate or online

Discover our exceptional wines for yourself

Visit Biltmore’s Winery, purchase online, or find them close to home with our Retailer Locator.

Featured image: Ripe grapes being harvested in Biltmore’s vineyard

Discover Biltmore’s Working Winery

In celebration of North Carolina Wine Month this September, let’s take a look Biltmore’s working winery where we handcraft our award-winning Biltmore wines.

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

In the beginning

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 Winery

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 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.”

Biltmore winemaker Sharon Fenchak with wine barrels
Biltmore winemaker Sharon Fenchak

Biltmore Winemakers

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 of wine production. 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 for aging Biltmore wines
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 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.

Biltmore vineyard with grape pickers
Philip Oglesby and members of his crew picking grapes in Biltmore’s vineyard

“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.

Guests enjoying a wine tasting at Biltmore Winery
Guests enjoy complimentary tastings at the Winery

Cheers!

Join us at the Winery to enjoy the fruits of our labor! Savor complimentary tastings of more than 20 of our wines in the Tasting Room, take a deeper dive into our working winery with specialty tours and experiences, or simply relax at the Wine Bar with any of our wines by the glass or bottle. 

Purchase Biltmore wines at the estate, online, and close to home with our Retailer Locator—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
 

Sip Our New Reserve-Worthy Rosé!

If you think rosé wines are overly sweet or just a little too pink, think again—rosés are one of the hottest trends among wine aficionados at the moment.

For some enthusiasts, rosé might have been seen as a lightweight wine, not worth sipping or sharing.

That view is changing, however, as winemakers take rosés to a crisper, dryer level that may surprise you.

Biltmore Reserve North Carolina Rosé 2018 in the Conservatory

Sip our new Biltmore Reserve North Carolina Rosé 2018

Biltmore Reserve North Carolina Rosé

Biltmore cultivates a number of varietals in our estate vineyards, and each season we hope to craft Biltmore Reserve wines that reflect the distinctive terroir of the Blue Ridge Mountains

Grape harvest in Biltmore's vineyard

Harvesting grapes in Biltmore’s vineyard

“Last year’s harvest yielded enough Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon for us to offer something special—a rosé wine, created from our estate-grown grapes,” said Sharon Fenchak, Biltmore winemaker.

According to Sharon, the only wines considered for the Biltmore Reserve label are those handcrafted from grapes grown in Biltmore’s own estate vineyard and by our North Carolina partners. By law, wines with an appellation and vintage date must contain at least 75% of grapes from the specific region in the year noted.

Biltmore Reserve North Carolina Rosé 2018 in the Rose Garden

“Our Biltmore Reserve Rosé 2018 is crafted from select North Carolina Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Merlot grapes,” noted Sharon. “We’ve coaxed beautiful color and subtle complexity from the fruit, creating layered aromas plus flavors of red berries, tropical fruits, and a hint of spice.” 
Rosés are perfect for outdoor entertaining all summer long

Savor all Biltmore rosé wines

In addition to our new Biltmore Reserve North Carolina Rosé 2018, we also offer delightful options like Biltmore Estate Zinfandel Blanc de Noir—a vibrant and crisp rosé with sweet tropical fruit aromas. 

Our Biltmore Estate Dry Rosé is an elegant and refreshing wine with a subtle, fruit-forward bouquet followed by layers of delicate berry flavors. 

For a sparkling wine as delicious as it is beautiful, try our coral-hued Biltmore Estate Blanc de Noir crafted from Pinot Noir grapes in the traditional méthode champenoise

Purchase our rosés—or any of our fine Biltmore wines—at the estate, online, or through our Retailer Locator.

Featured image: Biltmore Reserve North Carolina Rosé 2018 in the estate’s historic Rose Garden

Wings of Delight: Discover Our Newest Dessert Wine: Mariporta

In honor of our new exhibition A Vanderbilt House Party – The Gilded Age, winemaker Sharon Fenchak has handcrafted Mariporta—a dazzling red dessert wine that reflects the fine vintages that George and Edith Vanderbilt would have offered their guests.

Biltmore winemaker Sharon Fenchak

Careful coaxing

“The starting point for Mariporta was an outstanding Petit Sirah that we blended with other varietals,” said Sharon. “We carefully coaxed all the rich layers from the wine as it matured in oak.” 

Designed to delight

“Our velvety and barrel-aged Mariporta is exceptionally jammy and fruit-forward. Pair it with your favorite dessert, or simply serve it as dessert!” Sharon suggested.

In addition to the richly rewarding flavor of the wine, the label is a flight of fancy also inspired by A Vanderbilt House Party.

Florence Vanderbilt Twombly in her inspiring gown

Flight of fancy

“For the exhibition, we reproduced a stunning gown worn by Florence Vanderbilt Twombly—one of George Vanderbilt’s sisters,” said Leslie Klingner, Curator of Interpretation. “The original dress of finely woven silk was designed by House of Worth and adorned with embroidered butterflies and hand-sewn beadwork.​

Drawing on this description of the dress and an archival photo of Florence Twombly wearing it, Lisa Vogel, Art Director, created a remarkable design that echoes the delicate winged details of the gown. 

Re-creation of the butterfly gown

“In keeping with the style of the label, the name Mariporta flutters between the Spanish word for butterfly and the expressive style of this elegant red dessert wine,” said Lisa. 

Designed to delight with a touch of satin and spice, Mariporta celebrates the excitement of Biltmore house parties when friends and family were entertained with boundless hospitality.

Join us for the 2019 Sparkling Soirée: Gilded Age Masquerade!

Celebrate the first release

Be among the first to savor our newest offering by attending our 2019 Sparkling Soirée: Gilded Age Masquerade on Saturday, February 9, at 8 p.m. Don a mask and your most stunning attire for an evening of unparalleled elegance featuring live entertainment, dancing, and refreshments. Enjoy savory canapés, sweet petit fours, and a selection of Biltmore wines including the much-anticipated first release of Mariporta. You can also purchase Mariporta in estate shops or online.

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 label, 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 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. 

Getting to Know Your Glassware

Ancient origins

The material has ancient origins and was probably first developed by the Egyptians sometime after 2000 BC. It can also occur naturally, as in the case of obsidian and basalt glass produced as a result of volcanic eruptions. 

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

Biltmore wine in glassesDifferent glassware options for tasting Biltmore wines

Type and shape

When it comes to serving wine, the quality of the glass and the shape of the vessel both play an important role in the tasting experience

Wine enthusiasts have long known that the shape of the wine glass affects the taste of the wine,” said Jill Whitfield, Wine Marketing Manager for Biltmore. “It’s important to educate wine drinkers on this fact, because it can change how you experience wine from the tasting room to your own home.”

Server with glasses of red and white Biltmore wine on a tray

A server with red and white Biltmore wines

Standard glassware

A standard tasting glass usually offers a slightly wider base in proportion to a narrower rim, with a stem to keep the heat of your hand from warming the wine. 

“This combination allows you to aerate the wine by swirling it in the bowl, but it doesn’t allow the aromas—a vital component of the tasting process—to escape too quickly,” Jill said. 

  • White Wines
    White wine glasses tend to have smaller bowls to help preserve the floral aromas typical of white wines. The smaller style also helps maintain cooler temperatures, and allows more of the aromatic qualities to be enjoyed since the wine is closer to your nose. Our Biltmore Estate Pinot Grigio is a great example of a lighter-bodied white wine that would benefit from a glass with a smaller bowl design.

    Full-bodied whites such as our Biltmore Reserve Chardonnay North Carolina may utilize a slightly larger bowl to showcase the smooth, creamy texture that is characteristic of the varietal.
     

  • Red Wines
    Red wine glasses typically have larger bowls to allow some of the wine’s ethanol to burn off before it reaches your nose, allowing more aromas to be expressed. A wider opening allows the wine to flow more smoothly, which enhances the overall experience. 

    Glasses for serving light-bodied reds such as our Vanderbilt Reserve Pinot Noir Russian River Valley are typically wider and shorter than glasses for full-bodied, heavily tannic reds that include our classic Vanderbilt Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon Dry Creek Valley.

    Flute glasses with Biltmore Estate sparkling wine

Biltmore Estate Blanc de Blancs sparkling wine served in flute glasses

Let it sparkle

According to Jill, sparkling wines are often served in a distinctive flute with a stem. 

“The tall, narrow flute shape keeps the bubbles from escaping as quickly while the stem prevents the chilled wine from coming in contact with your warm hands,” said Jill. 

She notes that aged sparkling wines and those that are especially aromatic may benefit from a tulip glass, which resembles a flute but widens at the waist before narrowing at the rim. As for wide, shallow coupe glasses—they allow the bubbles to fly away, allowing the softer, fruiter aspects of sparkling wines to become more noticeable. 

Biltmore wine being poured into glasses

Pouring Biltmore Estate Dry Rosé into glasses 

Glass or crystal?

“Another important point to consider is the difference between glass and crystal,” Jill said. “The fine, thin texture of crystal is less interactive than glass, meaning that you’ll taste the wine and its specific characteristics more clearly, but glass is more durable and less expensive, so there are benefits to both materials.”

If tasting and understanding the complexities of wine is your goal, definitely invest in the proper equipment to help you succeed. 

Pouring Biltmore wine outdoors at the vineyardGuests enjoy a wine event in Biltmore's vineyard

“In the meantime,” said Jill, “whether you’re sipping from a plastic festival cup or the tiny crystal cordial glasses passed down through your family, we encourage you to enjoy wine in many forms!”

Learn more

Purchase our award-winning Biltmore wines online, at the estate, or from your local retailer

Take Flight Now with Vertical Vintages!

In 2018, Biltmore Wines was very excited to offer a rare opportunity exclusively to our Vanderbilt Wine Club® members: the chance to experience a true vertical tasting of our Vanderbilt Reserve Russian River Valley Pinot Noir. While the wines were available, Wine Club members could purchase this particular Pinot Noir in its 2012, 2013, and 2014 vintages!

What is a vertical flight and why is it so unusual?

Three glasses of red wine

Horizontal flights

Most wine flights are horizontal, meaning that you’re tasting several wines (often three or more) that are similar in nature (think “flight of geese” or “flight of stairs” and you’ll see how the name refers to a collection of similar things). This is a great way to learn more about wines in general and to discover interesting differences that you might not notice otherwise.

Vertical flights

What happens, then, when a flight goes vertical? That’s a very different type of tasting, and one that doesn’t happen every day.

Biltmore red wine being poured into a glass

For a vertical flight, you’ll be tasting three or more wines of the same varietal from the same maker in a series of different but close or sequential vintages. From varietal to vineyard to winemaker, the vintage is the only variable. Here are some of the things you can expect to experience:

  • Taste the obvious effects of how the wine matures over time
  • Note subtle differences made by the year’s weather in which the varietal was grown
  • Understand how aging affects the color, aromas, and flavors of the wine, and how it becomes more smooth as tannins and acidity decrease

Friends toasting with red wineHosting a vertical flight

A vertical flight is an exciting way to experience the terroir of a vineyard, the skill of the winemaker, and the characteristics of the varietal over time. It’s also a fun way for a small group of friends to learn more about a particular varietal together, so consider hosting a vertical tasting in one of two ways:

Youngest to oldest (most common vertical flight tasting style):

  • Discover the evolution of aging in a natural progression
  • Experience the varietal from a simpler, youngerphase to a more mature and complex one 

Oldest to youngest (more unusual; offers different insights): 

  • Learn how decreasing levels of alcohol, acidity, and tannins in more mature wines affect your tasting experience
  • Keep your palate fresher longer by tasting younger wines last

Glasses of red wineJoin the club!

Ready to enjoy exclusive offers available only to our Vanderbilt Wine Club® members, such as receiving three hand-selected vintages each season, a dedicated section of Biltmore's Winery, and members-only events? Become a Wine Club member today, or give someone special a gift membership!

Uncorked: Meet Biltmore’s Sommelier

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

Speaking from experience

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

Guests at The Dining Room at The Inn on Biltmore Estate

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

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

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

Rigorous training

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

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

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

Good listener

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

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

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

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

Plan your getaway today

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

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