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

Summer Entertaining in 3 Easy Steps: Chill, Grill, and Thrill!

Summer entertaining is as easy as chill, grill, and thrill!

Summer entertaining with the Vanderbilts

Ladies enjoying a warm weather picnic with wine at Biltmore House
Enjoy warm weather sipping with friends and family!

At Biltmore, summer entertaining was a favorite pastime for the Vanderbilts and their guests.

From birthday parties in the Rose Garden to picnics on the grassy slopes of Mt. Pisgah, warm weather offered the perfect excuse to leave formal dining behind and enjoy a gathering in the great outdoors.

Chill, Grill, and Thrill

Inspired by their example, here are three easy “chill, grill, and thrill” steps to simplify your summer entertaining whether you’re in the kitchen, on the porch, by the pool—or wherever your plans take you.

Summer entertaining in 3 easy steps: chill, grill, and chill
Chill out with a hearty red wine like our Biltmore Estate Limited Release Malbec and round out the easy meal with a green salad

1) CHILL

First, let’s start with an easy recipe for Grilled Skirt Steak with Tomatillo Salsa created by our Biltmore chefs to take advantage of summer’s bumper crop of tomatillos and heirloom tomatoes.

Grilled Skirt Steak with Tomatillo Salsa

Ingredients
2 pounds trimmed skirt steak (can substitute 4 ribeye steaks)

10 fresh tomatillos, husks removed and tomatillos quartered
8 cloves fresh garlic
3 green onions, roughly chopped
1 large shallot, peeled and roughly chopped
1 bunch fresh cilantro with stems and leaves
1 bunch parsley with stems and leaves
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
3 tablespoons salt
1 tablespoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper (optional; use to taste)
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

Optional for serving: heirloom tomatoes, quartered; olive oil; fresh lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste

Method
The salsa doubles as a marinade for the steak, so prepare it first by combining tomatillos, garlic, onions, shallot, herbs, seasonings, and olive oil in a blender and blending until smooth. Reserve 1/2 cup of the tomatillo salsa for garnish.

Place steak and marinade in a large zip-top bag and allow to marinate for 1–3 hours in the refrigerator.

Tips for chilling

2) GRILL

Grilled steak and heirloom tomatoes
Grilled Skirt Steak with Tomatillo Salsa

Grill marinated steaks on medium-high heat for 3–5 minutes on each side for medium-rare. When done to your liking, remove steak from the grill and put it on a clean cutting board or platter to rest while you finish the rest of your preparations.

Tips for grilling

  • While the grill heats, prepare a green salad to accompany the meal.
  • After the steak is done, split and toast a couple of baguettes on the still-hot grill to serve with the salad (and soak up those heirloom tomato juices).

3) THRILL

Summer sipping outdoors with Biltmore wines
Enjoy summer sipping and entertaining outdoors with your favorite Biltmore wines

Slice the steak and top with reserved salsa.

Dress quartered heirloom tomatoes with olive oil, lemon juice, and salt and pepper to taste. Arrange around the steak.

Tips for thrilling

  • Bring the entire entrée to the table on the cutting board—no need to transfer to another dish.
  • Use a chiller filled with a mix of ice and water to keep your wine cool, especially if you’re eating outdoors.

Gather your guests

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

Enjoy the chill, grill, and thrill of summer entertaining—plus delicious dining—done the easy way!

Discover more delicious Biltmore recipes and find our award-winning wines online.

Sip Biltmore’s Reserve-Worthy Rosé Wine!

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

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

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

Biltmore Reserve North Carolina Rosé 2018 in the Conservatory

Sip our new Biltmore Reserve North Carolina Rosé Wine

Biltmore Reserve North Carolina Rosé Wine

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

Grape harvest in Biltmore's vineyard

Harvesting wine grapes in Biltmore’s vineyard

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

Carefully Crafted North Carolina Wines

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

Biltmore Reserve North Carolina Rosé 2018 in the Rose Garden

Biltmore Reserve North Carolina Rosé 2018 in the Biltmore’s historic Rose Garden

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

Savor the Collection of Biltmore Rosé Wines

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

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

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

Buy Biltmore Rosé Wines Online or at Local Shops

Purchase our rosé wines—or any of our fine Biltmore wines—at the estate’s Winery and shops, online, or through our Retailer Locator.

Pairing Our Gardens with Biltmore White Wines

Looking for expert advice in selecting wines for spring entertaining? Be inspired by our playful pairing of our beautiful gardens with Biltmore white wines!

Biltmore Reserve North Carolina Rosé in the Walled Garden
Nothing could be finer than sipping our Biltmore Reserve North Carolina Rosé with all your favorite flavors!

Outdoor entertaining with Biltmore Wines

From patios to picnics to pool parties, here’s a basic tip on serving and appreciating wine outdoors in spring:

“Just follow the ‘20-Minute Rule’,” said Spencer Knight, Winery Tours Supervisor. “Remove white wine from the refrigerator 20–30 minutes prior to serving so the flavor profile has a chance to expand.”

Bucket full of Biltmore Wines
Put Biltmore wines on your “bucket list” for summer sipping!

According to Spencer, it’s also a good idea to return open wine bottles to a container of ice and water between refills, especially if you’re entertaining outside in warmer weather.

Pairing Biltmore white wines with our historic gardens

Biltmore wines provide great summer sipping
Enjoy Biltmore white wines by the glass or bottle this summer

In addition to pairing the distinct “personalities” of Biltmore’s historic gardens and grounds with our refreshing white wines, you’ll also find suggestions for white wine pairings with your favorite seasonal flavors.

Diana at Biltmore

Temple of Diana overlooking Biltmore House
Temple of Diana overlooking Biltmore House

This elegant site overlooking Biltmore House offers a classic setting that calls to mind Biltmore’s outstanding sparkling wines.

Brighten any special occasion with our Pas de Deux Moscatohandcrafted in traditional méthode champenoise to create fine, tiny bubbles.

This aromatic semi-sweet sparkler features the essence of orange blossom and flavors of wild strawberry and lemon. Enjoy with fresh fruit, chocolate covered strawberries, or cheesecake. 

Spring in the Shrub Garden

Olmsted planned colorful blooms for spring in Biltmore's Shrub Garden
Colorful spring blooms in Biltmore’s Shrub Garden

Savor the beauty of Biltmore’s Shrub Garden—a picture-perfect pairing for Biltmore Estate Riesling as the wine’s fresh and fragrant style is reminiscent of early-blooming spring shrubs.

Beautifully balanced with sweet apricot aromas, light honey flavors, and a crisp finish, Biltmore’s Riesling makes a surprisingly savory companion to spicy Thai dishes as well as fruity desserts.

A classic wine pairing for the Walled Garden

White wisteria blooming in Biltmore's Walled Garden
White wisteria blooming in the Walled Garden

Stroll the paths of this grand garden and enjoy the sun-warmed stone walls that enfold you with tradition, much like the classic taste of our Biltmore Estate Chardonnay

Smooth and balanced with subtle floral aromas, crisp fruit flavors, and hints of oak, Biltmore’s Chardonnay shines when served with favorites including chicken and grilled vegetables, pasta with cream sauce, and even hard-to-pair fare like squash dishes.

Our Rose Garden paired with a special rosé

Roses blooming in Biltmore's Rose Garden
Biltmore’s historic Rose Garden in front of the Conservatory

Biltmore’s rambling rose garden is a perfect match for our Biltmore Reserve North Carolina Rosé 2018.

Crafted from select North Carolina Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon grapes, our pretty-in-pink rosé blossoms with beautiful color, layered aromas, and flavors of red berries, tropical fruits, and a hint of spice. Enjoy with cheese plates and pizza. 

Pairing our Spring Release Wine with the Azalea Garden

Azaleas blooming in late spring
Azaleas blooming at Biltmore in late spring

The informal feel and bright colors of the Azalea Garden make it a natural match for our fragrant and food-friendly Biltmore Spring Release White Wine.

Handcrafted to capture the essence of the season, this is the perfect wine for warmer weather and picnics. You can also spice up spring by pairing it with zesty sausage and Indian food!

Enjoy Biltmore white wines this spring
Pair Biltmore wines with all your favorite flavors this spring

Savor Biltmore wines now

Whether you’re stocking up on favorite varietals or trying new ones, you can purchase Biltmore wines online or close to home through our Retailer Locator.

Discover Biltmore White Wines

Discover Biltmore white wines, handcrafted in every flavor profile from crisp and dry to juicy and sweet, plus special tips to help you make a great choice, every time.

Discover all Biltmore white wines at Biltmore's Wine Bar
You’ll find all our white wines at Biltmore’s Wine Bar

Biltmore Century Sweet White Wine

Century White Wine with pumpkin pie
Century Sweet White Wine pairs perfectly with spicy dishes and desserts

One of our best-selling white whites combines Gewürztraminer, Muscat Canelli, and Riesling grapes in a fragrant, semi-sweet blend that refreshes with a tropical twist.

Biltmore Century Sweet White Wine is a great introduction to several different white grape varietals, and it pairs surprisingly well with many of your favorite foods such as shrimp and Asian and Vietnamese cuisine. 

Tip: A good sweetness-to-acidity ratio is the secret to pairing semi-sweet wines with surprisingly spicy foods.

Biltmore Estate Chardonnay

Woman enjoying Biltmore Estate Chardonnay
Biltmore wines are perfect for warm weather sipping!

One of the most familiar white varietals is Chardonnay. Generally well-suited to absorb the vanilla and other characteristic flavors imparted by aging in oak barrels, Chardonnays often mature into grand wines with a rich, buttery flavor.

Tip: Malo-lactic fermentation, a process in which the sharper-tasting malic acid in wine is converted into lactic acid, gives wines a more rounded, buttery taste without necessarily aging the wine in oak barrels.

Discover Biltmore white wines like our Reserve Chardonnay
Biltmore Reserve Chardonnay is handcrafted from grapes grown on the estate and by our local partners

Try all three of our Chardonnay options: Biltmore Estate Chardonnay, our Biltmore Reserve Chardonnay North Carolina, and our Antler Hill Chardonnay Los Carneros.


Biltmore Estate Chenin Blanc

Biltmore Chenin Blanc in ice bucket
Biltmore Estate Chenin Blanc on ice

This varietal originated in the Loire Valley of France and might be considered a “low maintenance” grape that tends to be hearty and not too temperamental as it grows and ripens.

A slightly sweeter white varietal, our Biltmore Estate Chenin Blanc is a great choice for sipping by itself as well as enjoying with goat cheese, fresh fruit, and Asian cuisine. 

Tip: Although delicious on its own as a still or a sparkling wine, because of its fairly consistent acidity, you may find Chenin Blanc added to other white wine blends to improve their taste and character.

Biltmore Estate Pinot Grigio

Bottles of Biltmore Pinot Grigio
Savor refreshing Biltmore Estate Pinot Noir with seafood and other rich flavors

Pinot Grigio is generally known as a white varietal, yet the grape itself is actually a dusky, pinkish, blue-gray color. Some wines produced from it may take on a pinkish tone.

It has become one of the most popular white varietals in recent years because it tends to please most palates and pair well with a wide range of foods.

Biltmore winemaker Sharon Fenchak handcrafts our Biltmore Estate Pinot Grigio to bring out its slightly spicy, citrusy qualities. Enjoy it with ricotta cheese, pasta with cream sauce, ham, ravioli, crab, oysters, salmon, and shellfish.

Tip: Try sipping a glass of our Pinot Grigio before a seafood meal—its crisp, refreshing taste helps open and prepare your palate to savor those particular flavors.

Biltmore Estate Riesling

Discover Biltmore white wines for outdoor entertaining
George Vanderbilt’s legacy of gracious hospitality lives on with Biltmore wines handcrafted from grapes grown in the estate’s own vineyard or selected from trusted west coast partners

Originally from Germany, Riesling is a versatile grape that is crisp yet semi-sweet. Our Biltmore Estate Riesling features nicely balanced fruit flavors with acidity and exotic floral notes.

Tip: Love sushi but can’t imagine pairing anything besides sake with it? Try our Biltmore Reserve North Carolina Riesling made from grapes grown here at the estate.

Biltmore Estate Sauvignon Blanc

Savor in place with Biltmore wines and charcuterie
Pair Biltmore wines with your favorite comfort foods!

Sauvignon Blanc is a dry, crisp wine that suggests elegant pairings plus the ability to stand up to complex layers of taste in rich seafood such as crab, oysters, scallops, lobster, and shellfish.

Tip: Sauvignon Blanc (also known as Fume Blanc) is generally very acidic and is often characterized by hints of grass in the nose and the taste.

Our Biltmore Estate Sauvignon Blanc has been awarded Best of Class in the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition and received 88 points & Best Buy from the Beverage Testing Institute.

Biltmore Sparkling Wines

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

Sparkling wines are traditionally crafted from white grapes such as Chardonnay and Petite Meunier. Biltmore is one of only a handful of wineries that produce both still and sparkling wines, including our finest Biltmore Estate Château Reserve Blanc de Blancs North Carolina.

Tip: Pair our bubbly and festive Pas de Deux Moscato with a rustic apple tart—you’ll be amazed at the way the flavors come alive!

Purchase Biltmore white wines now

Purchase any of our fine wines in estate shops, online, or with our Retail Locator.

Celebrate Sauvignon Blanc in April

Since April 23 is National Picnic Day and April 24 is National Sauvignon Blanc Day, it’s a perfect time to celebrate Sauvignon Blanc with a picnic that includes chilled bottles of our Biltmore Estate Sauvignon Blanc AND our Limited Release Sauvignon Blanc!

Ladies enjoying a warm weather picnic with wine at Biltmore House
Enjoy warm weather sipping with friends and family!

What is Sauvignon Blanc?

The Sauvignon Blanc grape originated in the Bordeaux region of France where it was considered a good blending grape for other white wines rather than a stand-alone varietal.

Grapes ripening in Biltmore's vineyard
Grapes ripening in Biltmore’s vineyard

Later, Sauvignon Blanc became widely cultivated in Sancerre and in the 20th century was known by the name of that region rather than the name of the varietal.

Sauvignon Blanc (or Sancerre) is highly desirable for its food-friendly qualities that make it a natural to pair with a variety of flavors.

Fresh chilled seafood
Pair our 35th Anniversary Chardonnay with fresh seafood and other flavorful fare

A classic Sauvignon Blanc is crisp and refreshing, with a high acidity that can hold its own with rich seafood dishes and cheeses, yet is also delicious when sipped by itself.

Discover the Biltmore difference

Our Biltmore Estate Sauvignon Blanc is handcrafted for true varietal character with bright citrus aromas, fresh peach flavors, and an elegant finish.

Biltmore Winemaker Sharon Fenchak suggests pairing it well-chilled with everything from crab, lobster, oysters, scallops, or shellfish to goat and gruyère cheeses and green salads.

Selection of cheeses
Savor Biltmore Estate Sauvignon Blanc with a variety of cheeses

Though crafted from the same varietal, our Biltmore Estate Limited Release Sauvignon Blanc gives our winemaker more leeway to express the possibilities of the grape.

“It is definitely refreshing,” said Sharon Fenchak, “but also unexpectedly creamy with hints of toasted coconut, key lime, and oak.”

Sauvignon Blanc and oysters
Our Limited Release Sauvignon Blanc pairs perfectly with oysters and other seafood dishes

She enjoys serving it with foods like crab, flounder, oysters, and mozzarella cheese. “It’s a perfect partner for sushi, too,” Sharon said, “which can be very difficult for wine pairings.”

Stock up on Sauvignon Blanc and celebrate!

Savor in place with Biltmore wines and charcuterie
Pair Biltmore wines with your favorite comfort foods!

Go ahead and stock up on now on both our delightful Sauvignon Blanc styles, then invite friends and family for a backyard picnic, grill some crowd-pleasing Grilled Vegetable and Goat Cheese Pizzetas, and raise a glass to good times and great wines!

Savor the Art and Science of Winemaking

“The art and science of winemaking—for nearly 20 years, that’s how Bernard Delille and I described ourselves,” said Sharon Fenchak, winemaker and vice president of wine production for Biltmore.

Sharon Fenchak and Bernard Delille enjoy a glass of wine in Biltmore's vineyard
Biltmore winemakers Sharon Fenchak and Bernard Delille (now retired) enjoy a glass of wine in Biltmore’s vineyard

“Before his retirement in 2018, that’s also what we accomplished as a team,” Sharon said. 

A shared philosophy

“Our backgrounds were very different, with Bernard having begun his winemaking career in France,” said Sharon, “while my passion for the craft began while I was in the U.S. Army, stationed in Vicenza, Italy.

Despite their differences, the two shared a philosophy of creating high-quality wines that are true to varietal character while still being food-friendly and approachable.

Savor the art and science of Biltmore wines
Sharon and Bernard at work in Biltmore’s wine lab, tasting the scientific results of the art of winemaking

Raising a glass to retirement

When Bernard announced he planned to retire in July 2018, all the members of the wine production team wanted to handcraft a special wine that would commemorate their years of working together.

“We knew it had to be outstanding,” Sharon said. “It needed to speak to all that we’ve accomplished as a team, and to reflect the distinctive direction in which we’ve developed Biltmore wines.”

Art and science in Biltmore’s vineyard

Grapes ripening in Biltmore's vineyard
Grapes ripening in Biltmore’s vineyard

For the wine itself, Sharon and the wine production team looked no further than the natural outgrowth of “art and science” in Biltmore’s vineyard.

When she joined Biltmore’s wine production team in 1999, one of Sharon’s first projects involved a clonal selection initiative in the estate’s vineyards. “Clone” refers to a cutting or bud from an original varietal.

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

“The vineyard team was working with Dijon Chardonnay clones,” said Sharon, “and we were looking for those best suited to the conditions of the estate vineyard. From a winemaking and viticulture standpoint, clones 76, 95, and 96 showed great promise, producing smaller, looser clusters of grapes with more intense flavors and aromatics.”

The 2017 harvest of these distinctive clones would result in the first release featuring them exclusively, and Sharon knew these grapes were the perfect ones for a signature Chardonnay in honor of Bernard’s dynamic career and their long partnership.

Labeling a work of art

“For the label, we wanted something that illustrated the idea of art and science,” Sharon said. “The marketing team created a number of different concepts, from traditional monograms to some very fun graphics that had grape vines turning into the scientific formula for malolactic fermentation!”

X marks the spot

Commemorative label for the Bernard and Sharon wine
The commemorative Chardonnay label featuring Bernard’s handwriting font at the bottom

According to Lisa Vogel, art director, the design finally came together with an X-shaped cross of the two winemakers’ names and a traditional wax seal featuring their initials in the middle.

“Everyone admired Bernard’s beautiful penmanship,” said Lisa, “so we created a special font entitled ‘Delille’ from his actual handwriting to further personalize the collaboration represented by the label and the wine inside the bottle.”

“It’s a remarkable Chardonnay with a compelling label,” said Sharon. “I hope that everyone who tries it truly savors the art and science of winemaking it represents—including the expertise of our vineyard team who nurtured and harvested the grapes and the care with which the wine production team handcrafts all our Biltmore wines.”

Savor our wines by the bottle or glass

Woman enjoying Biltmore Estate Chardonnay
Biltmore wines are perfect for warm weather sipping!

Purchase Biltmore wines at the estate, online, or find them close to home.

While visiting Biltmore’s Winery, reserve a time to savor a complimentary tasting of our award-winning wines in person.

Uncork Refreshing Summer Cocktails with Biltmore Wines

Warm summer temperatures naturally call for cool drinks, so whether you’re poolside or porch-side, uncork refreshing summer cocktails with Biltmore wines!

Try our exceptional sparkling wines in your favorite fizzy cocktails and explore our recipes for homemade sangria.

Sparkling Cocktails

Ruby Slipper   |   Pomegranate Pas de Deux Punch   |   Southern Belle

Sangria

White Wine Sangria   |   Red Wine Sangria

Ruby Slipper

Ingredients

Method
Combine vodka, grapefruit juice, and grenadine in a mixing glass over ice. Shake well and strain over ice in a tall glass. Top with Pas de Deux Moscato. Garnish with a fresh strawberry on the rim. Single serving.


Pomegranate Pas de Deux Moscato Punch

Ingredients

  • 1¼ ounces Stoli Ohranj Vodka
  • ¾ ounces Cointreau
  • 1 ounce pomegranate juice
  • ½ ounce fresh-squeezed orange juice
  • 2 ounces Pas de Deux Moscato Sparkling Wine
  • Orange wheel for garnish

Method
Combine vodka, Cointreau, pomegranate juice, and orange juice in a mixing glass over ice. Shake well and strain over ice in a tall glass. Top with Pas de Deux Moscato. Garnish with an orange wheel. Single serving.


Southern Belle

Ingredients

• 5 ounces Biltmore Estate Romance Brut Sparkling Wine
• 1 ounce Amaretto Disaronno
• 1 ounce apricot brandy
• Fresh apricot or star fruit, sliced for garnish

Method
Pour brandy and amaretto into champagne flute. Add sparkling wine to the glass. Garnish with apricot or star fruit slice. Single serving.


Biltmore Winery’s White Wine Sangria

Ingredients

• 1½ cups sugar
• ½ cup water
• 2 Fuji apples
• 2 D’Anjou pears
• 2 nectarines
• 1 mango
• 2 blood oranges
• 6 oranges
• 3 lemons
• 2 limes
• ½ cup brandy
• 2 bottles Biltmore Estate Chardonnay

Method
Mix sugar and water in a small saucepan to create a simple syrup. Heat over medium heat until sugar is dissolved and set aside to cool. Slice or dice apples, pears, nectarines, mango, blood oranges, 2 oranges, 2 lemons, and 1 lime. Juice the remaining oranges, lemon, and lime.

In a gallon pitcher, mix simple syrup, brandy, juice, and Chardonnay. Add fruit and refrigerate overnight or until needed. Serve in a wine glass filled 2/3 full with ice. Yields 1 gallon.


Red Wine Sangria from The Inn on Biltmore Estate

Ingredients

Method
Mix first 6 ingredients together. Fill 4 wine glasses 2/3 full with ice and top each with 1 ounce of sparkling wine. Garnish each glass with one lime and orange wedge. (This recipe, minus the sparkling wine, can be mixed ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator for up to 7 days.) Serves 4.

Simple syrup: Mix 1½ cups sugar with ½ cup water in a small saucepan and heat over medium heat until sugar is dissolved. Chill.

Celebrate with Biltmore Sparkling Wines

There’s no better time to celebrate with Biltmore sparkling wines than right now!

Biltmore sparkling wine in glass
Fine, tiny bubbles characterize Biltmore sparkling wines

Whether you’re honoring a college graduate, seeking a wedding gift for newlyweds, or adding a bit of sparkle to a Wednesday evening virtual happy hour with co-workers, Biltmore has the best bubbles–handcrafted in the traditional méthode champenoise–for tasting and toasting.

Sparkling wine fun facts

Winery host with Pas de Deux sparkling wine
Fun fact: all Biltmore sparkling wines are handcrafted in the traditional méthode champenoise

For centuries, sparkling wine has enjoyed a certain mystery and allure. It was so enchanting, in fact, that some called it “devil’s wine” due to the effervescent bubbles.

Today, we still love the magical bubbles and appreciate the romance surrounding this delightful wine, and here are the fun facts to prove it:

  • There are 90–110 pounds of pressure per square inch in a bottle of sparkling wine–that’s more than three times the pressure in car tires!
  • Only sparkling wine from the Champagne region of France can officially be called “champagne.”
  • The grapes traditionally used in champagnes are Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier.
  • Dom Perignon, a Catholic monk and avid winemaker, accidentally discovered sparkling wine when some of his wine re-fermented by chance. He thought it was ruined, but the rest is history.
  • There are an estimated 44 to 57 million bubbles in every bottle of bubbly.
  • The cuvée solution often contains spirits such as Cognac.

Serving and storing sparkling wine

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

Sparkling wine may best be known as a celebratory drink, but we believe it’s the perfect everyday wine too. Whatever the occasion, enjoy your favorite Biltmore sparkling wine with these helpful tips:

  • Chill the bottle in the refrigerator prior to opening. The cold temperature helps preserve the bubbles when opening the bottle.
  • Sparkling wines are best when served at 33-40 degrees.
  • When opening a bottle of sparkling, hold the bottle at a 45-degree angle. Loosen the cage and hold the cork. Gently twist the cork until you hear a whisper of a pop.
  • Holding a towel over the cork when opening will help catch any spills that may occur.
  • Double-check your glasses to ensure the glass is free from detergent residue. A perfectly clear glass allows you to appreciate the bubbles.
  • After opening, all sparkling wines begin to lose their bubbles, so it’s best to drink them as soon as possible.
  • To store an open bottle of bubbly, you can use a special champagne topper. These metal caps with a rubber seal keep the bubbles fresh for the next time you want a glass.
  • Most sparkling wines are sold ready to drink, so don’t hang on to bottles in an effort to further “age” the wine.

An array of Biltmore sparkling wine options

Biltmore sparkling wine in an ice bucket
Add sparkle to your celebrations with Biltmore sparkling wines

Celebrate with Biltmore sparkling wines

When you’re ready to celebrate with Biltmore sparkling wines, you can find them at estate shops, online, or close to home with our Retail Locator.