Asheville Artist Reproduces Biltmore Sculpture

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

Biltmore sculpture removed for preservation

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

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

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

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

Asheville artist commissioned to create new Biltmore sculpture

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

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

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

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

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

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

Installation of the new sculpture

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

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

See preservation in action at Biltmore

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

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



Cedric the St. Bernard: Biltmore’s Very Good Boy

Cedric, a smooth coat St. Bernard, was a loyal companion to George Vanderbilt. Though we aren’t sure exactly how George came to own Cedric, we do know he was brought to the estate from Point d’Acadie, George’s summer home in Bar Harbor, sometime around the opening of Biltmore House in 1895. Cedric was likely 1-3 years old at this time.

Cedric, George Vanderbilt, and honeymooners Jay Burden and Adele Sloan, George’s niece, June 1895. This is one of the earliest photos of Cedric in the Biltmore House collection.
Cedric, George Vanderbilt, and honeymooners Jay Burden and Adele Sloan, George’s niece, June 1895. This is one of the earliest photos of Cedric in the Biltmore House collection.

Archival records reveal that Cedric received a lot of leeway around the estate. Correspondence from Biltmore House guests indicates that he had free reign on the first floor. He could often be found sunning on the Loggia or laying in the Library. He’s also seen in a number of pictures taken outdoors during Biltmore’s early days.

Cedric sunbathing on the Loggia, ca. 1900. The massive St. Bernard was known lounge and sometimes snooze in various locations through the first floor of Biltmore House.
Cedric sunbathing on the Loggia, ca. 1900. The massive St. Bernard was known to lounge and sometimes snooze in various locations through the first floor of Biltmore House.

Cedric was a true member of the Vanderbilt family and was treated as such. In addition to a couple of close friends and employees, Cedric was one of the few attendees at a private ceremony during which George and Edith Vanderbilt oversaw the planting of a commemorative tree to honor the birth of their daughter Cornelia in 1900.

George Vanderbilt, Cedric, and Cornelia Vanderbilt being held by her nanny at the planting of Cornelia's “Baby Tree
George Vanderbilt, Cedric, and Cornelia Vanderbilt being held by her nanny at the planting of Cornelia’s “Baby Tree”, October 1900. The photograph was likely taken by Edith Vanderbilt.

By 1901, there was a whole family of St. Bernards living at Biltmore, all adored by the Vanderbilts and their guests alike. In a letter to his wife, Joseph Hodges Choate, the American Ambassador to Great Britain and Biltmore House guest, wrote:

“I shall not attempt to describe the house, which is obviously the finest in America, but the dogs are truly magnificent … I wish you could see these great St. Bernards—five of them, father, mother and three children, all big and splendid.  They seem to fill the billiard-room and are most affectionate.”

Cedric dozing in the Library of Biltmore House, ca. 1896. The beloved St. Bernard was known to sprawl out and relax where ever George Vanderbilt was.
Cedric dozing in the Library of Biltmore House, ca. 1896. The beloved St. Bernard was known to sprawl out and relax where ever George Vanderbilt was.

George Vanderbilt gifted St. Bernards (believed to have been sired by Cedric) to friends and family.  In 1902, George’s friend the Right Rev. William Croswell Doane lost his faithful St. Bernard named Cluny, so George gave him a puppy named Balder. A few years later, George and Edith also gave a St. Bernard puppy to their nephew John Nicholas Brown, who named the dog Cedric.

Cornelia with one of her St. Bernards on the Esplanade of Biltmore House, ca. 1903. Cedric was the first of at least four generations born on the estate. The St. Bernard pictured is likely one of his grown pups.
Cornelia with one of her St. Bernards on the Esplanade of Biltmore House, ca. 1903. Cedric was the first of at least four generations born on the estate. The St. Bernard pictured is likely one of his grown pups.

Sadly, Cedric died in 1902 at Buckspring Lodge, where he was buried. To commemorate the occasion, Biltmore House guest Charlotte Pendleton wrote a poem in his honor, entitled Cedric: A Sonetto in Rondo, in the Nonsense Book.

Cedric on the Rampe Douce of the Esplanade in front of Biltmore House. This photograph accompanied a poem in the Biltmore House Nonsense Book honoring Cedric when he passed away in 1902.
Cedric on the Rampe Douce of the Esplanade in front of Biltmore House. This photograph accompanied a poem in the Biltmore House Nonsense Book honoring Cedric when he passed away in 1902.

Cedric Sonetto in Rondo

The Moses of your canine race

On Pisgah’s sapphire heights you strayed

Among her pink beds low you laid

Upon the high and lovely place;

You down to die where there is space,

Amid cathedral pine arrayed

With plumed crest and views that braid

Their columned stems with waving grace.

For your great body to lie down

Most fully housed, walk spreading skies

On beds of spicy needles, brown,

Fragrant; couched in majesty,

Rapt in deep solitude, a woven gown

Of shrouded mystery.

Measuring more than 33 inches around, Cedric’s original leather collar attests to the impressive size and heft of the Vanderbilts’ favorite breed.
Measuring more than 33 inches around, Cedric’s original leather collar attests to the impressive size and heft of the Vanderbilts’ favorite breed.

Today, we honor the legacy of Cedric the St. Bernard, Biltmore’s very good boy, with his eponymous restaurant: Cedric’s Tavern in Antler Hill Village. On your next estate visit, be sure to check out the many photographs of Cedric on the tavern’s walls as well the display of his impressive leather collar.

Biltmore’s Blacksmith: Striking While the Iron is Hot

Did you know America’s Largest Home® has a resident blacksmith?

A typical day for Biltmore blacksmith Steve Schroeder is spent demonstrating traditional techniques, telling stories to our guests, and answering their questions in the estate’s original smithy shop at Antler Hill Barn.

Biltmore blacksmith Steve Schroder learned the trade by apprenticing under our previous blacksmith Doc Cudd.

Blacksmith to Blacksmith

During one of his demonstrations, Steve met a guest who was a fellow blacksmith from New Jersey. The guest showed Steve a piece of his own: a metal key ring featuring a golf ball-sized rose with about 40 tiny petals.

Blacksmithing is the art of forging metal to create hardware, ornamental objects, and more.
Blacksmithing is the art of forging metal to create hardware, ornamental objects, and more.

Steve was impressed by the rose design and asked the guest about his process. To his surprise, the guest offered to stay at the smithy shop for what ended up being more than an hour to explain the method to Steve as he tried it out.

“That’s one of the great things about blacksmiths,” Steve explains. “We’re very open about sharing projects and we’re happy to teach each other different techniques. There are no secrets in blacksmithing.”

Blacksmiths use a variety of tools such as a hammer, an anvil, and a hot cut, which helps create indentations in the metal.
Blacksmiths use a variety of tools such as a hammer, an anvil, and a hot cut, which helps create indentations in the metal.

The Rose Hook Process

  1. The upper portion of the rod is heated—as it is throughout the process—and then hammered (above) until it is incredibly thin.
  2. The rod is twisted in the middle to define the stem.
  3. The flat, upper portion of the rod is placed over a hot cut and struck with a hammer to create indentions along one side, defining the individual petals.
  4. The upper portion is bent into a P-shape.
  5. The P-shape is tightly coiled, revealing the rose design.
  6. The lower portion of the rod bent to create the hook element.
Our blacksmith’s early rose hooks are on display near the second floor fireplace in Village Hotel.
Our blacksmith’s early rose hooks are on display near the second floor fireplace in Village Hotel.

Perfecting the Petals

Steve worked diligently to improve his rose hook technique over the next few months. During that time, news of the fascinating project caught wind around the estate. As result, eight rose hooks were soon installed in the comfortable seating area next to Village Social, located within Village Hotel.

Steve peels back the petals of the roses using pliers while the metal is still red-hot to create the blooming effect.
Steve peels back the petals of the roses using pliers while the metal is still red-hot to create the blooming effect.

However, Steve is quick to point out that the hooks installed in Village Hotel don’t reflect one of his biggest revelations in perfecting his technique, one that actually came from his wife Kylie.

“I explained to her that I was having a hard time keeping the petals open in the coiling process,” he says. “She suggested I use pliers to pull the petals back for that nice blooming effect.”

The design of the rose hook has slightly evolved over the years. Loving care and attention to detail goes into each iteration.

Striking While the Iron is Hot

Steve knew early on there was potential for his products to be sold on the estate—and Village Hotel guests were asking if the rose hooks were available for purchase on a daily basis.

While Steve didn’t want to sell the product until he thought it was in its best possible form, he knew that he had to “strike while the iron is hot.” (Yes, that is a blacksmith pun, and yes, Steve is full of them.)

We invite you to watch our blacksmith work and learn more about the craft in Antler Hill Barn. Hours vary seasonally.
We invite you to watch our blacksmith work and learn more about the craft in Antler Hill Barn. Hours vary seasonally.

Finally, after a few months and a few hundred roses, Steve felt confident enough in the design—more specifically, in his ability to replicate the design over and over—and the product hit the shelves of The Barn Door.

And the rose hooks are selling just as fast as Steve can make them. He brings a handful of rose hooks to The Barn Door every morning and they’re gone by the afternoon. In the first two weeks, the shop sold more than 50 hooks, making it their best-selling item.

Our blacksmith’s rose hooks sell out incredibly quickly and because of the nature of the craft, they’re only available on the estate.
Our blacksmith’s rose hooks sell out incredibly quickly and because of the nature of the craft, they’re only available on the estate.

As a result of this estate collaboration, the product’s footprint is almost non-existent. When a batch of rose hooks is ready, Steve simply walks them next door to be sold—no additional carbon emissions, packaging, or waste involved. The rose hooks don’t even have price tags.

On your next visit to the estate, be sure to make time to visit our blacksmith Steve Schroeder at Antler Hill Barn, then pop in The Barn Door to take home a truly unique piece of Biltmore.

Date Activities for Summer at Biltmore

There’s no better place to enjoy a summertime date with your sweetheart than Biltmore. Our 8,000-acre estate has a variety of activities for couples—whether you’re looking for a romantic offering or just a unique way to spend quality time with your special someone.

Couple hiking in Biltmore's 8,000-acre backyard
Plan your Blue Ridge Mountain escape at Biltmore today!

4. Reconnect amid Mother Nature

One great Biltmore date option is to explore our Blue Ridge Mountain backyard. Located in Antler Hill Village, our Outdoor Adventure Center offers a wide range of activities for reconnecting amid Mother Nature. Choose from a Private Carriage or Horseback Trail Ride, Sensory Journey Hike, River Float Trip, and more.

Take your date to the Winery
Whether you’re in the Tasting Room or at the Wine Bar, our knowledgeable wine experts are on hand to guide your selections.

3. Savor Handcrafted Vintages at Our Winery

What could be more romantic that sipping award-winning wines? Another fantastic date option, a visit to our Winery is perfect for the novice and connoisseur alike. Explore our vast portfolio of reds, whites, and roses in our Tasting Room or unwind at the Wine Bar where you can savor finest reserve and sparkling wines.

Legends of Art & Innovation is on display in Amherst at Deerpark®, Biltmore’s event space located in the heart of the estate.
Legends of Art & Innovation is on display in Amherst at Deerpark®, Biltmore’s event space located in the heart of the estate.

2. Discover Legends of Art & Innovation

A date option that’s also a fully immerse experience, our newest exhibition is a multi-sensory event that illuminates the remarkable lives of renowned artists and their timeless masterpieces. Legends of Art & Innovation features Monet & Friends – Life, Light & Color now through July 10 and Leonardo da Vinci – 500 Years of Genius beginning July 14.

A rejuvenating couples treatment at our petite spa facility is the perfect way to end a day of estate exploration with your sweetheart.
A rejuvenating couples treatment at our petite spa facility is the perfect way to end a day of estate exploration with your sweetheart.

1. Stay Overnight for a True Getaway

We invite you to stay overnight at one of our distinctive lodging options to transform your Biltmore date into a true getaway. Choose from the four-star luxury of The Inn, the casual comfort of Village Hotel, or the premium privacy of one of our Cottages. An added perk? Overnight stays include access to pampering treatments of The Spa Biltmore.

The Line House Cottages: A Brief History

Like all of the Cottages on Biltmore Estate™, our new Line House Cottages offer guests a step back in time to the Vanderbilts’ era—but unlike our other cottages, these cozy historic homes also provide a special glimpse into the estate’s agricultural heritage.

Archival image of the estate, c. 1906. The Line is in the foreground with the Barn to the left and the Main Dairy (what is now the Winery) in the center. Biltmore House is visible in the distance.
Archival image of the estate, c. 1906. The Line is in the foreground with the Barn to the left and the Main Dairy (what is now the Winery) in the center. Biltmore House is visible in the distance.

Located just steps away from the Barn and Farmyard in Antler Hill Village, the Line House Cottages are original estate structures, part of what was once referred to as The Line.

George Vanderbilt, his friend Stephen H. Olin, and two dogs walking towards the Farm Village (what is now Antler Hill Village), c. 1906. The Line is on the far left and the Barn is center-right. The four larger houses on either side of the Barn were reserved for management.
George Vanderbilt, his friend Stephen H. Olin, and two dogs walking towards the Farm Village (what is now Antler Hill Village), c. 1906. The Line is on the far left and the Barn is center-right. The four larger houses on either side of the Barn were reserved for management.

According to archival records, The Line consisted of eight nearly identical cottages. Dozens of estate employees and their families called these cottages home over the years, many of whom worked as milkers at the Dairy.

The beautifully updated living room in each of the Line House Cottages is the perfect place to unwind after a day spent exploring all the estate has to offer.
The beautifully updated living room in each of the Line House Cottages is the perfect place to unwind after a day spent exploring all the estate has to offer.

Today, these turn-of-the-century farmhouses have been reimagined as exclusive lodging options for our overnight guests, offering premium comfort and convenience along with privacy and four-star amenities.

The upstairs bedroom boasts double-window seating with ample natural light to illuminate the vintage Biltmore photographs displayed above the upholstered headboard.
The upstairs bedroom boasts double-window seating with ample natural light to illuminate the vintage Biltmore photographs displayed above the upholstered headboard.

Each of our 970-square-foot Line House Cottages can comfortably sleep four and offers:

  • Two bedrooms, each with a queen-size bed
  • Two bathrooms, each with a walk-in shower
  • Formal living room
  • Full eat-in kitchen
  • Covered front porch with pastoral views
  • Back patio for outdoor dining and entertaining
Imagine yourself part of this relaxing scene, sipping your morning coffee from your rocking chair on the front porch, having just woken up on George Vanderbilt’s magnificent estate.
Imagine yourself part of this relaxing scene, sipping your morning coffee from your rocking chair on the front porch, having just woken up on George Vanderbilt’s magnificent estate.

With soothing, pastoral views of our working Farmyard, these homes are a short stroll from Antler Hill Village & Winery, estate trails, and the four-star luxuries offered at The Inn on Biltmore Estate. We invited you to discover our newest lodging offering and book your stay at one of our Line House Cottages in gorgeous Asheville, NC today.

Due to the historic architecture of our Vanderbilt-era Cottages, they are not accessible for guests with limited mobility.

Meet The Team That Handcrafts Biltmore Wines

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

Meet Sharon Fenchak, Biltmore Winemaker and Vice President

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Meet Shruthi Dhoopati, Assistant Winemaker

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Try Biltmore wines for yourself

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

If you’re visiting Biltmore, be sure to make a reservation for your complimentary tasting at the Winery in Antler Hill Village, or enjoy a glass of your favorite varietal or blend at the Wine Bar or other relaxing location.

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


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

Craft Incredible Cocktails with Biltmore Wines!

Craft incredible cocktails with Biltmore wines and enjoy a refreshing new way to savor summer sipping on the porch, patio, or by the pool!

Switch up the spirits

“Summer is the perfect time to craft incredible cocktails featuring wines handcrafted here at Biltmore’s Winery in Asheville, North Carolina,” said Chris Price, Wine Marketing Manager. “‘And if you are looking for a lower-proof version of your favorites, simply switch out the spirit for a similar style of Biltmore wine,”

In the case of the white wine mojito below, we swapped the traditional rum for Biltmore Estate® Limited Release Sémillon. It makes a perfect “shady afternoon sipper” to enjoy while reading in the hammock (naps optional!).

White Wine Mojito Cocktail*

White wine mojito made with Biltmore Estate Limited Release Semillon
Craft this White Wine Mojito Cocktail featuring Biltmore Estate Limited Release Sémillon for summer sipping all season long

• 2 ounces Biltmore Estate® Limited Release Sémillon
• 2 ounces Italian lemon soda
• ¾ ounces freshly squeezed lime juice
• ¼ ounce simple syrup
• 4 mint leaves

Craft the cocktail: Muddle 4 mint leaves thoroughly in 2 ounces of Biltmore Estate® Limited Release Sémillon using a rough edge muddler. Add lime juice, simple syrup, and shake briefly on ice in a Boston shaker. Double strain into a martini glass and top with Italian lemon soda.

Serve straight up with a floating mint leaf as a garnish so ice does not overly dilute the cocktail. (Muddle different types of fruit to bring new flavors to this recipe—we give you a license to be creative!) Serves 1.

Wine: Recognized for its notably smooth texture and significant palate weight, our Biltmore Estate® Limited Release Sémillon, handcrafted at our estate winery, is a full-bodied, dry white wine. The rich, silky texture complements the fresh melon flavors and zesty citrus aromas. An exciting wine for any occasion, it pairs well with chicken, halibut, pork, turkey, and salads.

Summer Riesling & Tonic Cocktail*

Wine and tonic cocktail with Biltmore Estate Limited Release Riesling
Savor the flavor of your favorite fruits in this Summer Riesling and Tonic cocktail

“Fresh fruit and wine pair beautifully together, and warmer weather is the perfect time to experiment with your favorites and share the delicious results,” Chris said.

Whether you’re serving craft cocktails on the patio, porch, or poolside, outdoor entertaining takes on a new meaning when you invite a special guest like rum. Yum!

• 1 bottle Biltmore Estate® Limited Release Dry Riesling
• 8 ounces white rum
• 1 cup blackberries
• 1 cup fresh basil leaves (reserve some for garnish)
• 2 lemons (sliced into thin wheels and halved)
• Elderflower tonic

Craft the cocktails: The day before you want to serve these cocktails, pour Biltmore Estate® Limited Release Dry Riesling and your choice of white rum into a pretty pitcher. Submerge several basil leaves and blackberries in the mixture and refrigerate overnight.

When ready to serve, use your favorite glassware and build each drink with ice, blackberries, basil leaves, and a couple of lemon wheels. Fill glasses a quarter of the way with elderflower tonic, and the rest of the way with the chilled wine and rum mixture. Enjoy! Serves 6.

Wine: Discover the drier side of Rieslings with our Biltmore Estate® Limited Release Dry Riesling. It is quite enchanting, with bright citrus and spice aromas followed by flavors of stone-fruit. However, it is the dryness that makes this Riesling so extraordinary, and different than most types of this varietal you will experience. You can pair our Dry Riesling with rabbit, crab, oysters, and shrimp for delightful dining.

Chenin Blanc Pineapple Slushies*

“This craft cocktail is a fun way to liven up a summer gathering,” Chris said. “There’s a bit of nostalgia to any slushie drink, but this is definitely a grown-up version of the ones you remember from childhood!”

Pineapple slushie cocktail with Biltmore Estate Limited Release Chenin Blanc
Treasure the tropical taste of our Pineapple Slushie Cocktail!

• 8 ounces of chilled Biltmore Estate® Limited Release Chenin Blanc
— Tip: put wine in the freezer 30 minutes prior to mixing these cocktails
• 4 ounces chilled Plantation Pineapple Rum (used as a float)
• 2 cups frozen pineapple chunks
• 1 cup frozen mango chunks
• 6 ounces pineapple juice
• 3 ounces freshly squeezed lime juice
• 2 ounces ginger syrup (recipe below)
• 4 dashes Bittermen’s Tiki Bitters (or your favorite brand)
• Ice

Ginger Syrup
• 1 cup of water
• 1½ cups organic sugar
• 1 medium ginger root, sliced

Place all ginger syrup ingredients in a pot and bring to a boil, stirring constantly so sugar doesn’t burn. Remove from heat and allow to steep for 1 hour while it cools. Refrigerate for up to 2 weeks. Makes 1½ cups of syrup.

Craft the cocktails: Place all ingredients except rum in a blender. Blend until you have obtained a super slushy consistency. Pour into a glass, leaving room to float 1 ounce of Plantation Pineapple Rum on top, then garnish with extreme creativity! Serves 4.

Wine: An estate and online exclusive, our handcrafted Biltmore Estate® Limited Release Chenin Blanc is a rarity among its kind. Enjoy the balanced and fruity introduction, with a lingering, sweet finish accented by floral aromas and citrus flavors. The rich notes make it a wine that can stand firmly on its own, but it does pair well with Asian cuisine, crème brûlée, fresh fruit, fruity desserts, and tiramisu.

Purchase award-winning Biltmore wines!

Bottles of Biltmore Estate Limited Release wines
Biltmore Estate® Limited Release wines, distinguished by a matte black capsule and black-and-gold label, are perfect for sipping by the glass or in craft cocktails.

While the three delicious Biltmore Estate Limited Reserve wines featured in the craft cocktails above are available only in estate shops or online, you can find many of our wines close to home with our Retail Locator.

*Special thanks to The Urban Gastronome for creating the recipes for the craft cocktails featured in the post!

The Dairy Foreman’s Cottage: A Brief History

There’s a new overnight offering at Biltmore—a cozy, casual home in a peaceful woodland setting. Introducing the freshly renovated Dairy Foreman’s Cottage on Biltmore Estate™, an historic structure, reimagined to offer today’s guests an oasis of service, style, and charm. 

In honor of this exclusive new lodging option, let’s take a step back in time for a closer look at the history of this unique Biltmore residence. 

A Family Home for Estate Workers

Originally labeled a “Dairy Worker’s Cottage,” this welcoming home was one of five identical houses designed by Asheville architect Anthony Lord in 1935 for Biltmore Dairy employees and their families. According to archival correspondence from the time, the cottage was built for $535 with materials provided by the estate.

Archival photo of cows with Dairy Foreman's Cottage in the distance
The earliest archival photo of the Dairy Foreman’s Cottage (center of image, top of hill), ca. 1940

One of the first families to live in this house was likely the Allen family in the late 1930s or early 1940s. Ernest Allen brought his family to the estate in 1927, and over his 38 years of employment at Biltmore, primarily as a Farm Foreman, they lived in seven different estate residences. 

Ernest’s daughter Martha Allen Wolfe recalled in a 2016 interview with our Oral History Program that they had indoor plumbing and electricity while growing up in the Dairy Foreman’s Cottage. 

Archival image of Dairy Foreman's Cottage
Archival photo believed to be the Dairy Foreman’s Cottage, ca. 1950

Even with seven brothers and sisters, she remembered the home as being very comfortable. Her brothers slept upstairs, and apparently, they would secretly climb out of the windows at night, engage in some youthful mischief, and then sneak back in the same way.

One of her brothers was Bill Allen, who would eventually follow his father’s footsteps and have a 45-year career at Biltmore—first as Farm Manager and later Vineyard Manager. 

Martha said of the Dairy Foreman’s Cottage, “We loved it, and it was home.”

Gorgeous gourmet kitchen in Dairy Foreman's Cottage
The cottage’s gorgeous gourmet kitchen features stainless steel appliances.

New Life for an Old Cottage

Today, this 1,778-square-foot home has been beautifully updated with modern touches. Accommodating up to five guests, the cottage offers two bedrooms with a king-sized bed in each as well as a pullout sofa in the reading room. 

And there’s plenty of room for entertaining: an open kitchen that extends to dining and living areas, a formal sitting room, a screened-in back porch, and an outdoor dining patio.

Charming front porch with swing and rocking chairs
The charming front porch offers a secluded oasis of rest and relaxation.

The Dairy Foreman’s Cottage puts you just steps away from quiet nature trails, made lush by original forest plantings that contributed to the estate’s National Historic Landmark designation as the birthplace of American Forestry.

This welcoming abode is also located within walking distance of lively activity in Antler Hill Village, tastings of award-winning wines at our Winery, and the luxurious amenities offered at our four-star Inn.

For your next getaway, we invite you to make the Dairy Foreman’s Cottage your home away from home. Delight in the privacy of one of the most exclusive and customized lodging experiences the estate has to offer. Book your stay today.

8 Great Reasons to Visit Biltmore This Fall

There are more than 8 great reasons to visit Biltmore this fall, like the fact that the season 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 your fall trip.

Here are 8 of our favorite reasons to make Biltmore the center of your getaway this fall:

8 great reasons to visit Biltmore this fall
Biltmore House surrounded by gorgeous fall color

1. Prime location in Asheville, NC

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.

2. Rooftop Tour of America’s Largest Home®

8 great reasons to visit Biltmore this fall
In addition to enjoying our Building Biltmore House exhibition, enhance your visit with a Rooftop Tour that includes spectacular views and stories.

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.

3. Outdoor adventures

8 great reasons to visit Bltmore this fall
Enjoy beautiful fall color along our trails

Enjoy the crisp air and glorious fall colors while hiking or biking along our nearly 22 miles of paved and unpaved trails. Admire the scenery along the French Broad River, through lush green forests, or in the open meadows of the estate. Stop by the Bike Barn or Outdoor Adventure Center in Antler Hill Village for a detailed trail map and orientation.

4. Deerpark Carriage & Trail Ride Barn

Deerpark Carriage & Trail Ride Barn
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.

5. Biltmore Gardens Railway

Biltmore Gardens Railway in Antler Hill Village at Biltmore
Marvel at Biltmore Gardens Railway–a botanical model train display in Antler Hill Village

All aboard for family fun with Biltmore Gardens Railway! Experience our grounds in an engaging new way with a botanical model train display that is sure to delight all ages. Located in Antler Hill Village, the displays feature replicas of iconic train depots from around the country. Each beautifully executed piece was handcrafted from such natural elements as leaves, bark, and twigs.

6. Get ready for the holidays!

Golden cherub ornament on a Biltmore Christmas tree
Christmas decor in Biltmore House

After strolling through a kaleidoscope of fall colors in the Walled Garden and enjoying the beautiful hues of the surrounding Blue Ridge Mountains, reserve at time to visit Biltmore House and get a sneak peek at what the Floral Displays team is planning for the holidays. Even though we don’t officially kick off the season until early November, you may catch glimpses of their hard work in the weeks leading up to Christmas at Biltmore!

7. Vineyard harvest season

Harvesting grapes in Biltmore's vineyard on the west side of the estate
Grapes are picked by hand in Biltmore’s vineyard on the west side of the estate

Biltmore’s bounty takes center stage at the Winery in Antler Hill Village as we celebrate the harvest season. Make reservations to savor complimentary tastings of handcrafted wines and learn 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.

8. The ultimate fall getaway

Guests entering The Inn on Biltmore Estate
Enjoy a grand fall getaway at The Inn on Biltmore Estate

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.

Biltmore’s Azalea Garden: A Tribute to Chauncey Beadle

A favorite pastime of Biltmore Blooms is visiting the Azalea Garden—one of the largest selections of native azaleas in the country. The 15-acre garden is home to more than 20,000 plants, offering thousands upon thousands of vivid blooms of white, yellow, orange, and every shade of pink imaginable.

Azalea Garden in bloom
Biltmore’s Azalea Garden in peak bloom

But did you know the Azalea Garden was not actually part of the original plan for the estate?

This parade of color is a culmination of the passion of Chauncey Beadle, an avid azalea collector and horticulturist hired at Biltmore in 1890 who later became the estate superintendent.

Chauncey Beadle, ca. 1906
Chauncey Beadle, ca. 1906

Beadle and “The Azalea Hunters”

Beginning in 1930, Beadle, along with fellow botanists and friends Frank Crayton and William Knight—aptly called “The Azalea Hunters”—spent countless hours over long weekends and holidays driving through each southeastern state searching for every species, natural hybrid, form, and color of azalea.

Chauncey Beadle in the Azalea Garden, 1948
Chauncey Beadle in the Azalea Garden, ca. 1948

Beadle maintained his massive personal collection at his farm on the east side of Asheville until 1940, but he knew that he needed to find a home for his azaleas, fondly referred to as his “children,” before he became too old to care for them.

He could think of no better home than the Glen in the valley below Biltmore’s Conservatory and gardens. Edith Vanderbilt Gerry and Judge Junius G. Adams, Biltmore Company president at the time, agreed.

Azalea Garden Ceremony, 1940
Azalea Garden ceremony, ca. 1940

Establishing the Azalea Garden

In honor of his then fifty years of service to Biltmore, the estate held a celebration for Beadle* on April 1, 1940, in the Glen, which from that day forward would be named the Azalea Garden. All estate employees and their spouses were invited to the event.

Edith Gerry and Chauncey Beadle, 1940
Edith Vanderbilt Gerry and Chauncey Beadle, ca. 1940

During the ceremony, Edith unveiled a marker that memorializes Beadle’s lifetime of faithful service and gift of his azaleas to Biltmore.

Join us in celebrating the generosity and genius of Chauncey Beadle with a springtime stroll through the Azalea Garden. Plan your visit today!

*Thanks to new research from our Museum Services team, we now know that nine other employees were also honored for their many years of service in the 1940 Azalea Garden ceremony, including four Black men affiliated with the Landscape Department.