Discover Biltmore’s Working Winery
Wine & Food 03/23/22
Written By Jean Sexton
Discover Biltmore’s working winery and learn how we handcraft our award-winning Biltmore wines.
Biltmore’s Wine History
George Vanderbilt was known as a thoughtful collector of wines who wove an appreciation for fine wines into the fabric of the Biltmore experience, making it part of his legacy for gracious living.
While Mr. Vanderbilt introduced the pleasures of wine to Biltmore, it was his grandson, William A.V. Cecil, who had the vision and determination to develop vineyards and a winery at his family’s estate in the early 1970s.
Creating Biltmore’s working winery
In 1983, renovation began on the estate’s original dairy barn to convert it into a state-of-the-art winery, complete with production facilities, a tasting room, and a wine shop.
Bill Cecil, Jr., son of William A.V. Cecil and great-grandson of George Vanderbilt, assumed a leadership role in overseeing the project. “It wasn’t easy to turn an old barn into a new working winery,” said Bill, “but we knew it was important to keep the integrity of the original structure, and that helped us make each decision along the way.”
Biltmore Winemaker Sharon Fenchak
Since the Biltmore Winery opened in 1985, we attribute much of our success to our talented winemakers: Philippe Jourdain, Bernard Delille, and Sharon Fenchak, who joined the Winery team as assistant winemaker in 1999 and was promoted to winemaker in 2003.
Sharon now oversees Biltmore Wines as winemaker and vice president. Just like her predecessors, Sharon remains committed to handcrafting Biltmore Wines with the philosophy of keeping each wine true to varietal character, food-friendly, and consistent from vintage to vintage.
“Tastes change over time,” said Sharon. “Our wines are crafted in a classic style, but we keep our production facility up-to-date and we take advantage of technology and trends that help us improve our skills. It’s very important that we constantly learn more about what our guests enjoy so we can continue to produce wines they seek out here at the estate or savor in their own homes.”
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.
“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.
Cheers to our working winery and our handcrafted wines!
Join us at the Winery to enjoy the fruits of our labor! Make reservations to savor complimentary tastings of our wines in the Tasting Room, take a deeper dive into our working winery with a Red Wine and Chocolate Tasting, or simply relax at the Wine Bar with any of our wines by the glass or bottle.
Purchase Biltmore wines at the estate and online—or become a member of the Vanderbilt Wine Club and enjoy having our wines shipped directly to your door each season.
Featured image: Biltmore Winery entrance in Antler Hill Village
What is your shipping policy? We would like to purchase wine, but reside in Georgia. Will you not ship to our address in Georgia? Could you pease state your policy?
Thank you for your question. We do ship Biltmore wine to Georgia, and you can find complete details at this link: https://www.biltmoreshop.com/shipping-policy
can the public partake in the grape harvesting process?
Dear Asha, thank you for your question. Many years ago, we used to extend an invitation to our Annual Passholders to help with the grape harvest, but now only our vineyard crews pick estate grapes.
Is it possible to tour the vineyard?
Thank you for your question. While we normally offer a Vine to Wine Tour that includes our vineyards on the west side of the estate, that activity is temporarily unavailable. Please continue to visit biltmore.com for complete information and updates.
Has this Vine to Wine tour resumed?
Thanks for your question, Mike. At this time, our Vine to Wine Tour has not resumed, but please continue to check the website at biltmore.com for future availability.
Is there anywhere we can view the vineyard?
Thanks for your question. Since our Vine to Wine Tour & Tasting specialty experience is currently unavailable, there is not a way to view the vineyards at this time. Please continue to check our website for updates.
Can we go to the winery without buying a ticket for the whole estate tour? Is it open to the general public?
Thank you for your question. In order to visit Biltmore’s Winery, you must have an admission ticket to the estate, be an Annual Passholder, or be a guest at one of our lodging properties.
What type of grapes are grown on the Estate?
Thanks for your question, Christy. We grow Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet France, and Merlot here at the estate as these varietals are generally hardy enough to thrive in the climate of Western North Carolina.
So if I go and visit the Estate can’t go to the winery? Is there an additional charge to visit?
Thanks for your question, Maira! The Winery is included in your admission to Biltmore. There is no additional charge to visit, but you will need to make a reservation for your complimentary wine tasting on the day you visit. You may do so at the Winery or at any Guest Services location on the estate.
Planning to come and visit this place but we are a family of 3 and only me drinks alcohol, can they still come along? They will not be doing wine tasting but I want them to see it
Yes, your whole family can accompany you during your complimentary tasting at the Winery–our hosts have water and grape juice available for guests who prefer not to taste wine. Reservations are required for the tasting, and you can arrange that on the day of your visit at the Winery or any Guest Services location.
Where in town can I buy your Sweet Red without needing to purchase a ticket to the estate?
Thank you for your question, Dawn! You can purchase most of our Biltmore wines at the Gate House Shop located at the estate’s entrance without purchasing an admission ticket.