Wrap Up Holiday Gift Giving with Biltmore Wines!

When you wrap up your holiday gift giving with Biltmore wines, everyone on your gift list will know how much they mean to you!

Floral designer Hope Wright recently retired from a 23-year career at A Gardener’s Place, the charming gift shop located below the Conservatory in Biltmore’s Walled Garden. We caught up with Hope for some expert guidance on gift wrapping wine to make it even more special.

Bottle of Biltmore wine in a gift bag
Dress up a plain wine gift bag with a bright bow and a tassel or other ornamentation

“I love Biltmore wine and I often give it as a gift, especially during the holiday season,” said Hope. “And while there’s nothing wrong with simply placing a bottle of wine in a gift bag, it’s also nice to wrap it in a creative way that says ‘you’re special’ to your recipient.”

Timeless natural elements

“Here are two easy ideas that look beautiful using a little bit of ribbon and the kind of greenery you can often cut from your own backyard or local park,” Hope said. “It doesn’t take much to make a big impact.”

Crown of ivy

Biltmore Estate Dry Rose wine with a crown of ivy
Create a simple “crown of ivy” for the top of a wine bottle

To create this “crown of ivy” topper for our Biltmore Estate® Dry Rosé, Hope clipped an 18-inch strand of small leaf ivy and wrapped it several times around the neck of the bottle, tucking the end of the vine into itself to keep it in place.

She used about 18 inches of narrow, patterned ribbon to tie a simple shoestring-style bow and attached it to the ivy crown with wired twine. “I purposely attached the bow off-center,” said Hope, “so the wine label shows prominently,”

As a finishing touch, Hope clipped the ends of the bow to a length she liked and wound the ends of wired twine into a few whimsical tendrils that complemented the ivy.

Ribbon wrapping

Biltmore Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon wrapped with a ribbon and greenery
This gift-wrapping treatment couldn’t be more simple–or more beautiful!

Hope wrapped a length of burlap ribbon around the bottle just below its mid-section, making sure not to cover up the label on this outstanding Biltmore® Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon North Carolina. Handcrafted from estate-grown grapes, it’s an excellent local item for gift giving.

She used a different type of ribbon to tie a simple bow around the bottle, centering it over the first ribbon for contrast.

“Once you have the ribbons and the bow in place, you can tuck in any type of greenery you like. I used two different colors of arborvitae to create more interest and texture, but sprigs of ivy would work, or a twig with berries–the possibilities are endless!” Hope noted.

Wrap up your holiday gift giving

To wrap these wine bottles for gift giving, Hope used the same wrapping technique on each of them, but varied the wrapping material and trimmings.

Global journey

Wine bottle wrapped in a map
Create serious travel vibes by wrapping a wine bottle in a vintage map

“For the travelers on your gift list, wrap a bottle of wine in a vintage map like this one I found in a thrift store. You’ll need a 24″x24″ section of the map to cover the bottle.”

After wrapping the wine, Hope knotted a length of raffia around the neck of the bottle, then added a simple bow of red ribbon and a bit of greenery for some holiday flare.

Wrap it royally

Biltmore wine bottle wrapped in elegant fabric
Look for rich fabric remnants like this to repurpose for wrapping a bottle of Biltmore wine

“In addition to vintage maps, I look for beautiful fabric remnants that will make gorgeous gift wrap for wines,” said Hope. “Simply wrap the bottle, then tie a coordinating ribbon around the neck–that’s all you need to make it special.”

As a bonus, Hope created an elegant pine tassel to set off the regal look of this wine gift, She clipped enough white pine needles to get a full-looking tassel, hot-glued the tops together, and bound the top with narrow wired twine to hide the glue. While binding the top, she also made a loop of the wired twine to go around the neck of the bottle.

Step-by-step: tea towel wine gift wrap

Collage showing steps for wrapping a wine bottle in a tea towel
To gift wrap a wine bottle in a tea towel, follow these easy steps

Hope chose a Biltmore tea towel with a Christmas pattern to gift wrap this exceptional bottle of The Hunt Red Blend Sonoma County. After fluffing the ends of the tea towel, she tied an elegant bow of wired silk ribbon around the neck.

To make the gift twice as nice, Hope added Biltmore’s annual dated Christmas ornament to the bottle.

“Look at each of steps shown in this instructional collage,” Hope said, “and you’ll see how easy it really is to gift wrap a wine bottle in a tea towel!”

Gift giving: bundles and baskets

Biltmore cheeseboard, wine, and dip mixes bundled for gift giving
Bundle several items with a similar theme, like this stylish cheeseboard with a bottle of Biltmore wine and a selection of our gourmet mixes and dips

Wrap up a bountiful bundle

“Here’s an easy way to create a bundle of gifts that share a common theme,” said Hope. “This handsome wood-and-slate Biltmore Cheeseboard with Drawer includes a set of three brass cheese knives. I pulled out the hidden drawer and secured the wine bottle to it with a ribbon, then added a stack of delicious Biltmore mixes and dips to the board and tied a wide gold ribbon around the whole bundle.”

For an extra surprise, Hope used the cheese knives as a special topper for the bundle, then tucked a few sprigs of fresh rosemary round them.

“The rosemary is the crowning touch that pulls the culinary theme together,” Hope noted, “and it smells wonderful, too!”

Holiday hospitality in a basket

Staff favorites: Biltmore wine and gourmet food in a basket
Surprise someone special with a gift basket filled with Biltmore sparkling wine and gourmet food

Who wouldn’t want to receive a basket of holiday hospitality full of Biltmore wine and gourmet goodies, especially when it is embellished with fresh greenery and ribbons?

“For this gift giving example, I chose a medium-sized basket that would easily hold a bottle of Biltmore Estate® Blanc de Blancs sparkling wine, a selection of Biltmore mixes and dips, wassail drink spice, seasonings and sauces, and a holiday tea towel,” said Hope.

She lined the basket with a type of honeycomb packaging paper that’s recyclable, and tucked in a few cardboard risers to keep smaller items from falling to the bottom.

Once everything was arranged to Hope’s satisfaction, she filled in the background with magnolia leaves and pine cones, wired an elegant golden bow to the basket’s rim, and balanced the look with a Biltmore Christmas ornament on the other side.

Make holiday gift giving more merry!

Bottles of Biltmore wine wrapped for gift giving
Wrap up your gift giving with Biltmore wines!

“All the ideas I’ve shown here easy to recreate,” Hope said, “and that was my goal. I hope you’ll be inspired to surprise friends and family with special touches like these that make your holiday gift giving even more meaningful.”

Find everything you need to celebrate the season in style–including Biltmore wines and gourmet foods–at estate shops and online at biltmoreshop.com.

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.

Decanting Downton

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

In honor of hosting Downton Abbey: The Exhibition through September 7, 2020, we thought it would be fascinating to look at Downton Abbey—and Biltmore’s own history—through the lens of a wine bottle.

A thoughtful collector

We know that George Vanderbilt was a thoughtful wine collector in his own right, and he also relied upon the services of professional wine purveyor Alexander Morten who was well-known for his excellent taste and recommendations.

To learn more about the process of procuring and preparing wines in the late 19th century, we turned to Jeff Plack, business development manager for Biltmore Wines and a wine aficionado in general, to “pour out” what he knows about the subject.

Archival list of winter wines in Biltmore's wine cellar
March 12, 1913: list of wines in Biltmore’s cellar

The business of wine

“I love the fact that in the new Downton Abbey feature film–and in many episodes of the six-season PBS Masterpiece seriesthe characters were sipping wine at some point,” said Jeff. “Wine consumption was a direct measure of one’s wealth in that era and it was not unusual for large estates to have thousands of bottles in their cellars. At that time, the wines were mostly French.”

Jeff explains that Mr. Carson, the Crawley family’s beloved butler in the series, would have been largely responsible for the wines served at Downton Abbey.

“The family might have taken an active interest in wine,” Jeff said, “but the butler was generally the person who oversaw the supply and prepared the wines for the dinner table.

Decanting wines

Formal place setting on the Banquet Hall Table in Biltmore House
This formal place setting on the Banquet Hall table features six pieces of crystal, including a champagne coupe and a cordial glass for port or sherry

In one episode of the series, Carson is seen decanting wine using an interesting contraption.

“It’s appropriately called a decanting machine or cradle,” said Jeff. “The cradle holds the wine as someone turns a crank which slowly pours the wine out of the bottle.”

In the scene, Carson is using a lighted candle behind the bottle to help him see any sediment in the wine. This technique, along with a piece of muslin over the decanter, would help filter out impurities.

(Note: the featured image for this blog shows the decanting cradle in Mr. Carson’s pantry as part of Downton Abbey: The Exhibition currently hosted at Biltmore.)

The circle of wine

For wealthy households like the one depicted in Downton Abbey, the variety of wines consumed at dinner made a circle of sorts.

Glass and silver wine decanter
A delicate silver and glass wine decanter from the Biltmore collection

“Evenings would usually begin with port or sherry and possibly a glass of champagne as an apéritif,” said Jeff. “Each subsequent course of the dinner would be paired with a different wine.”

Mariporta dessert wine on a tray with glasses
Our Mariporta is a port-style dessert wine reminiscent of the ones the Vanderbilts might have enjoyed

According to Jeff, wine pairings were different than the ones we make today.

A common practice of the era was to serve a white Burgundy (generally a Chardonnay) with the first course and then a red Bordeaux with the main meal. 

“It was less about the science of which wines ‘go with’ or complement which foods, and more about wines that they preferred,” Jeff said. “For dessert, they would move back to something like port, similar to our Mariporta Red Dessert Wine, and then end with sparkling wine again; a happy circle of wine life.”

Celebrate with Biltmore sparkling wines
Our handcrafted Biltmore bubbles make any occasion more special

With modern winemaking techniques, we no longer need to use decanting machines and filters, and though we enjoy pairing wines based on qualities such as acidity and tannins, we also love complementing favorite flavors with wines we enjoy.

Savor Biltmore Wines

Join us at the Winery for complimentary tastings of our award-winning wines. You can purchase Biltmore wines at most estate shops or online. In addition, experience Downton Abbey: The Exhibition hosted in two locations on estate grounds, November 8, 2019–April 7, 2020.

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