Moving into America’s Largest Home

Moving into America’s Largest Home would be a work in progress for George Vanderbilt as Biltmore House was not quite finished for his October 1895 move-in date.

Have you ever moved into a custom-designed new home? If you have, you know that the punch list never seems quite buttoned-up on moving day. Little details seem to linger even after the last box is unpacked—and it was no different for George Vanderbilt’s magnificent new house in Asheville, North Carolina.

A ground-breaking project

Archival image of America's Largest Home under construction
Archival image of Biltmore House under construction, May 8, 1894

Ground was broken in 1889, and during the course of the six years that followed, George Vanderbilt remained in close touch with Biltmore House lead architect Richard Morris Hunt, supervising architect Richard Sharp Smith, and landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted. Hunt passed away in August 1895, just months before Vanderbilt moved in, but Sharp Smith was able to complete the plan.

Archival image of the Brick Farm House, circa 1889
Archival image of the Brick Farm House, circa 1889

When he came to stay for periods of time at the construction site, George Vanderbilt stayed in what was called the Brick Farm House, a property he purchased from Asheville entrepreneur B. J. Alexander in 1889. Sharp Smith renovated the property, which included a mill and farm buildings, so that it was comfortable enough to accommodate Vanderbilt and his project team when they visited to check on the estate’s progress.

In the months leading up to the official opening, carpentry and cabinetry were among the final touches. With George Vanderbilt’s move-in scheduled for October, archival information shows that Richard Sharp Smith hired 16 additional cabinetmakers to speed up progress.

Archival photo of some of the contractors who built America's Largest Home
Biltmore House contractors, including Richard Sharp Smith (second from right), circa 1892

Finishing the last details of America’s Largest Home

On his first night at Biltmore, George Vanderbilt slept in the Bachelors’ Wing because his bedroom wasn’t finished. There was another issue, too, described in the papers of Frederick Law Olmsted:

When the water was turned on in the stable… to get ready for the servants to occupy, it was found that it would not go up to the second floor where the servants [sic] rooms are.

The problem was soon fixed and water flowed a few days later, but there were still a few outstanding details to hammer out. With family and friends expected for Christmas 1895, Sharp Smith hired an additional 10 cabinetmakers in December. While almost all the carpentry was finally completed in 1896, additional cabinetry projects extended into 1897.

Front façade of America's Largest Home
View of front façade of Biltmore House

Plan your visit today

Today, when you visit Biltmore Estate, you can see first-hand the incredible attention to detail that went into every aspect of America’s Largest Home. But as you might imagine, even this architectural masterpiece was subject to the challenges faced in any home-building project. By seeing the vision of the project through until the end, George Vanderbilt and his design and construction team created a landmark with enduring quality that we still enjoy today, more than 125 years later.

Discover Biltmore’s Working Winery

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

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

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.”

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

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.

Steel tanks in Biltmore's working winery
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 savor 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.

Workers pick Chardonnay grapes in Biltmore's vineyard
Vineyard crews picking grapes by hand in Biltmore’s vineyard on the west side of the estate

“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.

Hand holding glass of Biltmore wine at our working winery
Make a reservation for your complimentary tasting at Biltmore’s working winery!

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
 

Plan a Romantic Date at Biltmore

Biltmore is the perfect place to plan a romantic date, especially when Valentine’s Day is right around the corner.

Whether you’re looking for a day of special activities or a long weekend getaway, winter is a wonderful time to visit the estate. From the magnificence of America’s Largest Home® to special packages at both of our distinctive hotels, we’ve compiled a list of six sensational ideas for planning your romantic date at Biltmore. 

1. Share a sweet treat with someone special

Coffee and pastries from The Bake Shop at Biltmore are perfect for your romantic date
Indulge in a sweet treat from The Bake Shop during your romantic date at Biltmore!

Enjoy fresh–baked pastries and baked goods, excellent espresso, gourmet coffees, and herbal teas from The Bake Shop located in the Stable Courtyard next to Biltmore House. Before or after your self-guided house visit, this is a perfect way to warm up winter’s chill.

Romantic date tip: While you’re in the neighborhood, take time to visit the collection of gift shops located inside the Stables–you’re sure to find a charming memento of your time together!

2. Escape to the tropics!

Practice mindfulness in the peaceful Conservatory
Wander among tropical treasures in Biltmore’s Conservatory

Indoor enchantment awaits in Biltmore’s Conservatory. Possibly one of the warmest spots in North Carolina’s mountains during winter, the Conservatory is filled with thousands of exotic plants, including an expansive orchid display at its showiest peak in the peaceful winter months.

Romantic date tip: Be sure to snuggle up for a selfie together with a lush back drop of tropical treasures!

3. Discover the Vanderbilts’ love story

George and Edith Vanderbilt at buckspring Lodge
George and Edith Vanderbilt sitting on the front steps of Buckspring Lodge, their rustic retreat on Mt. Pisgah

The Vanderbilts at Home and Abroad exhibition highlights the Transatlantic courtship and wedding of George and Edith Vanderbilt with archival letters, personal items and exotic treasures they collected during their world travels. The exhibition is located at The Biltmore Legacy in Antler Hill Village, just steps away from the Winery.

Romantic date tip: After learning more about the Vanderbilts, take time for a sweet treat or light bite from the nearby Creamery.

4. Warm up at the Winery

Red Wine & Chocolate Tasting for a romantic date
A match made in heaven–red wine and chocolate!

As soon as you arrive at our Winery, make a reservation for your complimentary wine tasting to savor a variety of our award-winning Biltmore wines. To make your romantic date truly memorable, enjoy a specialty wine experience like our Red Wine and Chocolate Tasting together!

Romantic date tip: Bubbles make everything better, so indulge in a glass (or a bottle!) of our refreshing Biltmore Estate® Blanc de Blancs or our pretty-in-pink Biltmore Estate® Blanc de Noir sparkling wine!

5. Let your romantic date take flight

Falconry is a Top 5 Winter activity at Biltmore
Explore the thrilling art of falconry at Biltmore

Our 8,000-acre backyard provides natural habitat for a variety of beautiful birds this time of year. Meet them, explore their habits, and learn about their environments with engaging, informative activities that invite you to expand your Biltmore knowledge in a new way. Feathered Friends, Waterfowl Habits, and Guided Bird Walks offer a great way to spend time outdoors with someone special.

Romantic date tip: Let your hearts soar as you discover the ancient art of Falconry together!

6. Immerse yourself in Van Gogh Alive

Van Gogh Alive exhibition
Explore our Van Gogh Alive exhibition now–March 5, 2022

This multi-sensory exhibition is a powerful and vibrant symphony of light, color, sound, and scent that compels you to leave the world behind and immerse yourself in Van Gogh’s paintings. Simultaneously enchanting, entertaining, and educational, Van Gogh Alive, created by Grande Experiences, stimulates all the senses and opens the mind.

Romantic date tip: Hold hands throughout this experience and “read” your partner’s thoughts through the contact.

Plan your romantic date at Biltmore now!

Couple on a romantic date at Biltmore
Plan your romantic getaway at Biltmore this winter

Join us during Winter at Biltmore for a romantic date, or simply enjoy spending time together with family and friends. We look forward to making you welcome!

Top 5 Biltmore Family Favorites for Summer 2021

Our top 5 Biltmore family favorite activities for summer are sure to please the entire clan, from grandparents to grandchildren!

Winkie Bar Sundae in a waffle bowl
Try all the ice cream treats, including this delicious Winkie Bar Sundae served in a waffle bowl

5. Favorite Flavors: Ice Cream for Everyone

Did you know that the vanilla ice cream served on the estate is based on a delicious original Biltmore Dairy recipe? Now at Biltmore Dairy Bar® near Biltmore House and the Creamery in Antler Hill Village, you and your family can enjoy the same rich flavor enjoy by estate guests more than a century ago.

Tip: Get sandwiches and ice cream to go from the Creamery and have a picnic on the nearby Village Green. Celebrate summer with Biltmore wine for the grownups and Biltmore sparkling grape juice for the younger set.

Family biking at Biltmore
Bring the whole family along on your next biking adventure at Biltmore

4. Favorite Activity: Biking for All Ages

Ready to explore our wide-open spaces? Visit the Outdoor Adventure Center or Bike Barn in Antler Hill Village and rent mountain bikes for rugged trails or comfort cruisers for paved paths. Tandem rentals also available so the younger members of the family can join the fun.

Tip: Consider our Farm Trail Guided Bike Ride and other new outdoor activities for more exciting ways to explore the estate.

Biltmore Gardens Railway in Antler Hill Village at Biltmore
Marvel at the wonders of miniature trains during Biltmore Gardens Railway!

3. Rediscover a Family Favorite: Biltmore Gardens Railway

One of the absolute must-see elements of the estate this summer is Biltmore Gardens Railway, featuring beautiful garden-scale botanical model train displays. This charming exhibition featuring estate-related landmarks—each handcrafted in meticulous detail from all-natural materials—returns to the Conservatory.

Tip: Experience Biltmore Gardens Railway now through September 26, 2021.

Child explores Stickwork sculpture in Antler Hill Village
The new Stickwork sculpture in Antler Hill Village is fun for all ages!

2. New Family Favorite: Stickwork by Patrick Dougherty

Crafted and installed in Antler Hill Village, this unique-to-Biltmore, large-scale outdoor sculpture entitled Free as a Bird is a wondrous combination of Patrick Dougherty’s carpentry skills and love of nature.

Over the last three decades, this internationally-acclaimed artist has built over 300 of these works, which have captivated the hearts and imaginations of viewers worldwide. Enjoy Stickwork by Patrick Dougherty now through September 30, 2021.

Tip: Explore Stickwork by Patrick Dougherty during the day or at night, when the sculpture is lit to enhance your experience.

Family activities for spring at Biltmore
Explore our glorious gardens and grounds during Biltmore Blooms this spring

1. All-Time Family Favorite: Our 8,000-Acre Backyard!

With 8,000 acres of Blue Ridge Mountain backyard, you’ll never run out of places to explore at Biltmore! Enjoy more than 20 miles of hiking trails along the French Broad River, through lush green forests, or in the open meadows of the estate.

Tip: Visit the Bike Barn or Outdoor Adventure Center for a detailed trail map and orientation to the trails.

Enhance your Biltmore visit with an overnight stay

In addition to our top 5 family-favorite activities, make the most of summer vacations and long holiday weekends at Biltmore by adding overnight accommodations at The Inn on Biltmore Estate, Village Hotel on Biltmore Estate, or our two private historic Cottages on Biltmore Estate.

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.

The Railcar Red Wine Runs Smooth

The Railcar Red Wine runs smooth–and we invite you to try it for yourself!

The powerful red blend—handcrafted to honor George Vanderbilt’s personal ties to the American railroad industry—and as a complement to Biltmore Gardens Railway—is just the ticket for sipping and savoring with your favorite foods.

The Railcar Red Wine runs smooth
The Railcar red wine is a powerful complement to Biltmore Gardens Railway

The Railcar red wine runs smooth

The Railcar is a distinctive red wine crafted predominantly of Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Petite Sirah, and Merlot,” said Biltmore Winemaker Sharon Fenchak. “I selected fruit from our vineyard partners in Paso Robles and Lake County—two outstanding grape-growing regions in California’s wine country.”

As soon as you uncork The Railcar, you’ll experience its earthy bouquet that includes hints of caramel, vanilla, plum, black cherry, and baking spice.

Friends toasting with red wine
Cheers to the chill, grill, and thrill of summer entertaining

On tasting this medium-to-large bodied garnet-colored wine, you’ll discover bright cherry, plum, and dried fruit flavors up front, a bit of spice, and nice full tannins that make it an excellent pairing partner with barbecue, smoked meats, and pasta with red sauce.

Creating a distinctive label

“When we first talked about creating this wine, we knew it would need a special label that showcased how distinctive it is,” noted Jill Whitfield, Senior Marketing Manager, Biltmore Wines. “With that in mind, we reached out to Asheville artist Bryan Koontz to see what he envisioned for The Railcar.”

Sketches for The Railcar label
Bryan refines his graphite concept sketches for The Railcar red wine

Getting on track with a local artist

In addition to being an an exceptional artist who created original artwork for our 2018 Christmas at Biltmore Wine labels and our 2019 Spring Release label, Bryan is a train aficionado whose detailed illustrations of trains have appeared in books depicting the historic development of railroads in this country.

Transitioning the sketches from graphite to watercolor
Transitioning from graphite to watercolor

Concepts and sketches

He’s particularly knowledgeable about the types of steam engines that would have been in use in George Vanderbilt’s day, and he drew on that knowledge to create several concepts that he began to refine with a final destination in mind.

“I knew about George Vanderbilt’s railway connections,” said Bryan, “and that he had his own private railcar. That was the height of luxury at that time, to commission a custom-made railcar and travel in style anywhere a train could take you!”

Bryan’s initial concepts and early sketches were rendered in graphite pencil to provide the crisp clarity that characterizes his work. It’s a medium that lends itself to creating all the tiny details of a vintage steam engine.

Refining the details

The artist at work on the label in his studio
Bryan at work on the label in his studio

As the concept was refined toward its final iteration, Bryan used watercolors to bring the engine, its cars, and the surrounding landscape to life.

Final touches for The Railcar label
The label nearing completion

The final version looks so real you can almost hear the engine coming down the track toward you—perhaps pulling George Vanderbilt’s private railcar behind it!

Enjoy The Railcar Red Wine along with Biltmore Gardens Railway!

Biltlmore Gardens Railway display
Biltmore Gardens Railway in Antler Hill Village

From July 1, 2020, through February 15, 2021, marvel at Biltmore Gardens Railway, our botanical model train display located in Antler Hill Village.

New this year, we’re featuring iconic American train stations crafted from natural materials such as leaves, twigs, and bark.

Stroll through this fascinating display that hearkens back to the golden age of train travel, and celebrate the occasion with a distinctive bottle of The Railcar Red Wine, available at estate shops, online, or close to home with our Retailer Locator.

Tulips in Biltmore’s Walled Garden: A Brief History

Each spring, thousands upon thousands of beautiful and brightly colored tulips fill the formal flowerbeds of Biltmore’s Walled Garden. Their vivid hues are a favorite part of the season for many guests.

But preparation for the show actually begins long before warmer weather arrives. According to Parker Andes, director of Horticulture:

Planting for spring in the Walled Garden begins months before you see the results. One reason we get continuous color is because we plant several varieties of up to six bulbs per hole!

In honor of this seasonal celebration, let’s take a look at the history of tulips in Biltmore’s Walled Garden.

Archival image of Biltmore Walled Garden
The Vegetable and Flower Garden (now the Walled Garden), cica 1895

The Vegetable and Flower Garden

Landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted originally envisioned the Walled Garden as a multipurpose space, providing fine fruits and vegetables as well as fresh flowers for Biltmore House. The design was inspired by English kitchen gardens, which were often walled to protect them from wind and wild animals.

George Vanderbilt, however, did not share this vision. Instead, he thought the Walled Garden should be one of “ornament, not utility.” While fruits and vegetables were grown there intermittently, most of them were gradually phased out over time.

Archival image of Tulips in the Walled Garden
Tulips in the Walled Garden, circa 1930

The Earliest Hint of Tulips

It is difficult to say exactly when tulips made their debut in the Walled Garden. However, one letter in our archives tells us the blooming bulbs have been planted there for almost a century.

On April 14, 1922, Estate Superintendent Chauncey Beadle wrote to Cornelia Vanderbilt:

The tulips in the walled garden are so glorious that we are trying out an experiment of sending you a box today by express for Easter. We shall hope they will bring you something of their original beauty and charm to make Easter even more wonderful. Spring is very much advanced here, even the yellow rambler roses are opening. 

The showy flower was perhaps chosen for the dramatic beds of the Walled Garden as an homage to the Dutch heritage of the Vanderbilts—and the term “Biltmore.” The name selected for the family’s country retreat derives from “Bildt,” the town in Holland where George Vanderbilt’s ancestors originated, and “more,” an Old English word for open, rolling land.

Tulips have served as a status symbol for the Dutch since the height of “Tulipmania” in the mid-1600s when speculation on rare bulbs created an investment bubble and the price of one bulb was equal to ten years of income.

Tulips in the Walled Garden
Tulips in the Walled Garden delight guests year after year

The Tradition Continues

Tulips in Biltmore’s Walled Garden have long been a favorite element of the season. Even before Biltmore House opened to the public in 1930, the Vanderbilts allowed some public access to the area a few days a week during spring so that locals and out-of-state visitors alike could enjoy estate gardens in bloom.

This tradition continues today with Biltmore Blooms, our seasonal celebration of the estate’s ever-changing progression of springtime color.

Plan your visit today and join us as we delight in the more than 80,000 tulip bulbs that lend their dramatic color to the Walled Garden. 

…And the winner is…

The Coral Knock Out Rose has captured the top prize at the recent finals of the 2019 Biltmore International Rose Trials.  Bred by William Radler and distributed by Star Roses & Plants, Coral Knock Out Rose (RADral) took home the George and Edith Vanderbilt Award for Most Outstanding Rose of the trials.

Coral Knock Out Rose by Star Roses & Plants

The winning rose was among a collection of roses planted for trials in 2017 in Biltmore’s award-winning and historic Rose Garden. Since 2011, Biltmore’s Rose Garden has been home to the trials in which more than 200 varieties from growers and breeders worldwide have been planted and cared for by Biltmore’s expert horticulturalists. A permanent jury of rose experts judged the plantings four times a year during the trial’s two years.

In addition to winning the Best in Show Award, Coral Knock Out won the Chauncey Beadle Award for Most Outstanding Shrub Rose. Additional winners this year were:

Sweet Hips (KAPswehp) – Winner of the William Cecil Award for Best General Impression, and the Lord Burleigh Award for Most Disease Resistant Rose, Sweet Hips is available from Weeks Roses.

Sweet Hips, available from Weeks Roses

Cupid’s Kisses (WEKtriscala) – Winner of the Gilded Age Award for Best Climbing Rose. Bred by Christian Bedard, it is available from Weeks Roses.

Cupid’s Kisses

Bliss Parfuma (KORmarzau) – Bred by Kordes Roses in Germany, Bliss Parfuma won the Edith Wharton Award for Best Floribunda. It is available from Star Roses & Plants.

Bliss Parfuma

Moonlight Romantica (MEILkaquinz) – Winner of the Pauline Merrill Award for best Hybrid Tea went to Moonlight Romantica, bred by Meilland in France. It is available from Star Roses & Plants.

Moonlight Romantica

Trials of this type are open to rose breeders around the world – from professional to beginner. Competing roses are evaluated for overall health and rigor; fragrance; disease resistance; and ability to repeat bloom.

Congratulations to all of the winners!

Biltmore: The Birthplace of American Forestry

When George Vanderbilt began planning his grand estate in Asheville, North Carolina, more than a century ago, he envisioned a self-sustaining home and stewardship of the land and its resources for years to come. Though it is hard to imagine now, portions of the lush forest surrounding Biltmore House was once overworked farmland and overcut woodland.

Over forested Asheville
Poor Woodland, c. 1892; © The Biltmore Company

The Birthplace of Modern Forestry Management

Following the recommendation of landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted, Vanderbilt hired trained forester Gifford Pinchot—who later served as first chief of the United States Forest Service and founder of the Society of American Foresters—to develop a forest management plan for his land holdings, which eventually totaled approximately 125,000 acres.

Pinchot’s scientific forestry plan (the management and conservation of forest lands) was the first of its kind in the United States and served as a national model. In turn, George Vanderbilt was the first American landowner to implement scientific forestry on a large scale.

In 1895, the same year as the opening of Biltmore House, German forester Dr. Carl A. Schenck succeeded Pinchot and expanded the forest management plan over the next 14 years, including the development of a comprehensive management plan for Vanderbilt’s vast Pisgah Forest holdings. During his tenure at Biltmore, Dr. Schenck also founded the Biltmore Forest School—the first school of forestry in the United States—graduating more than 300 of the nation’s first professionally-trained foresters.

White Pine Planting Asheville, North Carolina
White Pine Plantings, c. 1929; © The Biltmore Company

America’s First Managed Forest

The contributions of Frederick Law Olmsted, Gifford Pinchot and Dr. Carl Schenck transformed what was once a landscape of overused terrain into America’s first managed forest on such a large scale, improving the health of the land while producing sustainable wood and other resources, establishing the birthplace of American Forestry.

Edith Vanderbilt American Forestry
Edith Vanderbilt (far left) and Cornelia Vanderbilt (second from right) attending Pisgah National Forest dedication to the memory of George Vanderbilt, c. 1920; © The Biltmore Company

In May 1914, Edith Vanderbilt, completed her late husband’s wishes of selling an 86,000-acre tract of Biltmore to be managed by the U.S. government as public lands, creating one of the first national forest east of the Mississippi River: Pisgah National Forest. In an excerpt from a letter declaring her family’s interest in preserving the property, Edith stated:

“Mr. Vanderbilt was the first of the large forest owners in America to adopt the practice of forestry. He has conserved Pisgah Forest from the time he bought it up to his death, a period of nearly twenty five years, under the firm conviction that every forest owner owes it to those who follow him, to hand down his forest property to them unimpaired by wasteful use.”

“I make this contribution towards the public ownership of Pisgah Forest with the earnest hope that in this way I may help to perpetuate my husband’s pioneer work in forest conservation, and to ensure the protection and use and enjoyment of Pisgah Forest as a National Forest, by the American people for all time….”

Biltmore Estate American Forestry Today
Views from Biltmore today.

Biltmore’s Forestry Legacy Continues

Today, Biltmore Estate and its resources continue to be managed by those original guiding principles to ensure future vitality, honoring George Vanderbilt’s legacy of conservation and environmental stewardship.

Nearby, the Cradle of Forestry is a 6,500-acre Historic Site within Pisgah National Forest, set aside to commemorate the beginning of forest conservation in America and the lasting contributions of George Vanderbilt, Frederick Law Olmsted, Gifford Pinchot, and Dr. Carl Schenck.

Comparing Biltmore House to Downton Abbey

Downton Abbey: The Exhibition ended September 7, 2020. Please enjoy this archived content.

Did you know everyday life in Biltmore House bore striking resemblance to fictional life at Downton Abbey? In honor of Biltmore playing host to Downton Abbey: The Exhibition, let’s take a look at some of the similarities—and differences—between these two grand homes.

Archival image of estate workers during harvest season at Biltmore, ca. 1900

A Working Estate

The greatest overarching parallel between Downton Abbey and Biltmore is the idea of both as working estates overseen by one man and his family. While Downton Abbey is set in England, George Vanderbilt’s vision for Biltmore was heavily influenced by the model of similar English estates. There were numerous tenant families working the land, and the Vanderbilts grew to know each of these families closely over the years.

Servants' Hall in Biltmore House
The Servants’ Hall in Biltmore House, where staff could relax and socialize

Household Staff

Within the houses, the standards of domestic service were much the same between the Crawleys and the Vanderbilts. While there were some differences in the ways American and English households were managed, the housekeeper played a major role. At Biltmore, this role was primarily filled by Mrs. King; for Downton Abbey, it’s Mrs. Hughes—both known for their massive house key rings and calm demeanors.

Detail of electrical switchboard in the sub-basement of Biltmore House

Technological Advancements

Though numerous characters within the Downton Abbey household, both above stairs and below, expressed concerns about advancements in technology, they were widely embraced at Biltmore. Even in 1895, Biltmore House was constructed with many of these in mind: telephones, elevators, forced heating, mechanical refrigeration, an electric servant call bell system, electric lighting, and more. 

Restoring the wallcovering of the Louis XV Room in Biltmore House
Restoring the wallcovering of the Louis XV Room in Biltmore House

Preserving the Home

One of the primary themes in Downton Abbey is the importance Lord Grantham and his family place on preserving and maintaining their home for succeeding generations. This has also been a prime concern at Biltmore for George Vanderbilt’s descendants. Today, the estate is owned and overseen by the fourth and fifth generations of the family.

Join us November 8, 2019 through April 7, 2020 to experience Downton Abbey like never before—amid George Vanderbilt’s magnificent estate—with Downton Abbey: The Exhibition at Biltmore.

Feature image: Biltmore House, ca. 1910