Celebrate Small Moments That Matter With Biltmore

This season, celebrate the small moments that matter most with Biltmore.

“Gracious gatherings, special events, and festive decorations accompany the holiday season, but many times it’s the small moments that we really remember most, like catching up with friends over a glass of Biltmore wine,” said Jan Douglas, Director of Guest Relations.

Group of friends toasting with Biltmore wine
With Biltmore wines, all your gatherings are seasoned with cheer!

Make it meaningful

“Amidst the exciting rush of the holidays, it’s important to celebrate small moments that matter. Remembering what’s meaningful, carving out time for ourselves, and prioritizing family and cherished friends is truly what this joyful season is all about,” Jan said.

We’ve gathered some of our guests’ favorite memories and traditions to inspire your own celebrations.

Collecting special memories

Jim Shore Biltmore Santa keepsake
Discover all the delightful details that make this collectible Jim Shore Biltmore® Santa so special!

For Cheri Compton, a long-time Passholder from Knoxville, Tennessee, time spent at Biltmore with her mother was a cherished Christmas tradition.

“My mother and I went to Candlelight Christmas Evenings at Biltmore for several years before she was unable to travel,” Cheri explained. “We would spend hours looking at the trees and the beautiful decorations, and her favorite thing was to be sure we were there while there was seasonal music in the house.”

When her mother could no longer make the trip, Cheri continued the tradition with friends and always brought her mother a keepsake Biltmore Santa for her collection.

Handwritten holiday wishes

Bottles of Biltmore wine on a table
Celebrate the season with Biltmore Estate® Blanc de Blancs sparkling wine

Mailing handwritten Christmas cards is Paige Price’s favorite way to send a hug to the special people in her life.

“At Christmas, I like to take time to remember friends and former co-workers whom I no longer see on a regular basis,” she said.

“In preparation, I make a trip to Biltmore every fall from my home in Lexington, Kentucky, to choose my Christmas wine to save for the card-writing occasion,” Paige said. “When I sit down to begin composing notes to each person and reflect on the memorable times we spent together, I celebrate them, and the season, by having a glass!”

This year, Paige opted for a bottle of our Biltmore Estate® Blanc de Blancs to add special sparkle to the small moments that matter most to her.

Sounds of the season

Hands playing a piano
Music strikes a special chord for many guests at Biltmore

Kim Meade of Tennessee has been a professional pianist for most of her life, but a Christmas performance at Biltmore 30 years ago still holds a special place in her heart.

“I was blessed to be part of a church group that performed at Biltmore House,” Kim said. “Talk about a dream come true! There are few places left that allow you the feeling of stepping back in time. Biltmore is one of those, and that night was an evening I will never forget.”

Kim remembers the decorated trees in every room, and the feeling that for one moment in time, she and all the others were special guests of the Vanderbilts.

“We felt as if George and Edith Vanderbilt might just walk in at any moment to make sure every detail was in place!” said Kim. “Being a small part of the magic of Biltmore during Christmas was a forever moment for me.”

Seek out small moments that matter most

Couple toasting a small moments with Biltmore wine
Savor all your special small moments with Biltmore wines!

As the holiday season gets under way, we hope you’ll make time to visit Biltmore and discover your own small moments that matter.

Like many of our guests whose special Christmas memories are created with Biltmore as the backdrop, we invite you to join us to celebrate your own small moment traditions—or create new ones—that will bring you closer to family, friends, and what matters most to you.

Find everything you need to celebrate the season, from award-winning wines and gourmet food to jewelry and gifts, in our Seasoned with Cheer holiday hospitality guide.

Top 10 Staff Favorites for Christmas at Biltmore

What are the top 10 staff favorites for Christmas at Biltmore? Among the multitude of joys experienced during the holiday season at America’s Largest Home®, we’ve collected a special list to inspire your imagination and assist with gift giving.

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

“Many of our staff members have been part of the Biltmore family for decades, but their joy and wonder during the holiday season never fades,” said Terri Koestler, Senior Director of Employee Experience. “From festive food and drink to mementos and special moments, these top 10 staff favorites offer a special glimpse into our employees’ perspectives.”

Our holiday legacy continues

On an unforgettable Christmas Eve in 1895, more than 20 members of George Vanderbilt’s family gathered at Biltmore House for the first time. Their awestruck delight has been repeated throughout the decades as today’s guests experience Biltmore during the holidays.

Here’s how even our long-time Biltmore staff members catch the spirit of the season every year:

1. Laura’s favorite: the sounds of music

Staff favorites: Harpist playing in the Third Floor Living Hall
A harpist plays Christmas carols in the Third Floor Living Hall

Laura Cope, Collections Manager, ensures the proper care of Biltmore’s priceless furniture, art, and objects. An avid music lover, she enjoys the talented musicians who play at Biltmore–especially at Christmastime.

“I always get sentimental at Christmas when I hear a harp play inside Biltmore House,” she raid. “To hear What Child is This? or The Nutcracker Suite within these beautifully decorated rooms really gives you a sense of what guests of Mr. and Mrs. Vanderbilt would have experienced. It’s something that I look forward to every year!”

2. Jeff’s favorite: going a-wassailing

Biltmore wine with mulling spices
Perfect pairings: Biltmore wines go a-wassailing!

“Love and joy come to you” are among the New Year wishes sung in this traditional Christmas carol, and Jeff Jones, Carriage House Supervisor, enjoys the song’s warm sentiment while sipping a cup of spicy wassail.

“Nothing tastes as much like Christmas as a cup of wassail,” said Jeff. “It’s not just one of our staff favorites—our guests love it as soon as they sample it in our estate shops!”

According to Jeff, all three varieties of Biltmore’s Wassail Spice Blend can season your favorite wine, cider, or other hot beverage with cheer during the holidays and all year round.

3. Staff favorites: party starters

Staff favorites: Biltmore cheeseball and wine
Make entertaining easy with Biltmore’s delicious cheeseball and dip mixes

Another staff favorite? The ability to bring a bit of Biltmore elegance to any holiday gathering with our best-selling gourmet cheeseball and dip mixes.

With festive options such as Christmas at Biltmore Cranberry Pecan Cheeseball Mix, along with traditional crowd favorites like Biltmore® Spinach Dip Mix, no more than two additional staple ingredients are needed for a quick and easy way to let the fun begin!

4. Staff favorites: dazzling “decorations”

Staff Favorites: Oaken Necklace by Southern Gates®
Drawn from elements in Biltmore House, jewelry by Southern Gates® is a charming remembrance of the time you spent at Biltmore.

Biltmore staff members carry the legacy of the estate close to their hearts at Christmastime and beyond by wearing a piece of Biltmore-inspired jewelry or choosing it as a gift for someone special.

Staff favorites include collections by CRISLU, ALEX AND ANI®, and Southern Gates® that feature tiny tokens of timeless luxury found at the estate and highlight some of Biltmore’s most memorable features using precious gemstones and custom-designed charms.

5. Hannah’s favorite: wrapping up gift giving

Biltmore Reserve Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon
Handcrafted from estate-grown grapes, Biltmore® Reserve Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon make wonderful gifts for the holidays

As Visual Assets Coordinator, Hannah Parks sees the beauty of Biltmore through photographs and videos, including places that guests rarely visit, like the vineyards on the west side of the estate.

“I’m excited that the 2019 vintages of Biltmore® Reserve Cabernet Franc North Carolina and Biltmore Reserve® Cabernet Sauvignon North Carolina have been released just in time for the holidays,” said Hannah. “Not only are they two of my all-time favorite Biltmore wines, but the fact that they are handcrafted from estate-grown grapes makes them really wonderful local gifts. I’ve already bought several bottles to share with friends and family, and I may go back for more!”

6. Kyle’s favorite: the nicest spices!

Perfect pairings include wine and meatballs
Enhance all your Biltmore Grown® Beef selections with Spicewalla® Rubs

Many Biltmore staff members are fans of Spicewalla, a home-grown Asheville business that has gained worldwide attention for its unique small-batch spice blends.

“To complement your holiday meals, I suggest the robust rubs that Spicewalla has created especially for the estate’s Biltmore Grown® Beef selections, including Biltmore Grown Brisket Rub, Biltmore Grown Steak Rub, and Biltmore Grown Burger Rub,” said Kyle Mayberry, Director of Agriculture for the estate.

7. Courtney’s favorite: sipping and savoring all year-round

Women with Vanderbilt Wine Club shipment
Give someone special the gift of membership in our Vanderbilt Wine Club®

According to Courtney Miller, Wine Club Manager, membership in the Vanderbilt Wine Club® is a fabulous gift for a loved one, or a decadent one for yourself!

“Surprise someone special with a gift membership that lasts for 12 whole months,” Courtney said. “You’ll definitely be on their ‘nice list’ every time a seasonal shipment arrives!”

Wine Club members receive their preference of red wines, white wines, a mix of red and white wines, or sweet wines each season along with tasting notes and chef-inspired recipes, plus exclusive access to special discounts, promotions, and invitations to members-only special events. 

8. Staff favorites: seasonal spreads

Sideboard filled with Biltmore wine, spreads, and dips
Delight your guests with gifts of good taste, including Biltmore’s jams, jellies, spreads, and syrups

Just as the Vanderbilts loved to host and entertain family during the holidays, our staff knows how to show hospitality to their own Christmas guests with more than two dozen gourmet flavors of Biltmore jams, jellies, preserves, honey, and syrups that delight at the breakfast table, enhance a charcuterie board, and make perfectly delicious gifts throughout the season—especially when paired with Biltmore wines!

9. Staff favorites: crowdsourcing our Christmas wine labels

Facebook fans helped choose the labels on Biltmore Christmas wine
The 2021 Christmas at Biltmore wines makes a perfect gift for someone special

Since 2018, Facebook followers of Biltmore have weighed in on the one-of-a-kind labels found on our bottles of Christmas at Biltmore’s Red and White Wines. This year, our employees couldn’t be happier that one of their own—Craig Sponseller, who works in Mail Services—was chosen to create the original artwork.

Our Biltmore staff members love giving these special bottles as thoughtful hostess or Christmas gifts, and many buy an extra bottle for themselves as a collectible keepsake.

10.  Brent’s favorite: raising the Banquet Hall Christmas tree

Celebrate Biltmore's tree-raising tradition virtually
Raising the Banquet Hall Christmas tree is a guest and staff favorite tradition at Biltmore

The rooms of Biltmore House will be filled more than 60 hand-decorated Christmas trees this year, but the one that stirs the hearts and imaginations of our guests and staff members the most is the 35-foot-tall fresh-cut Fraser fir in the tapestry-lined Banquet Hall.

Brent Merrell, Director of Engineering Services, oversees the installation of the towering tree. “Every year, we experience excitement mixed with some nerves on the day we bring in the massive tree, which weighs 2,500 to 3,000 pounds,” explained Brent. “The tree-raising is virtual again this year, but this tradition is always a staff favorite because it truly marks the beginning of the Christmas season at Biltmore.” 

What are your top 10 favorites for Christmas at Biltmore?

Our employees, both new and seasoned, enjoy sharing their enthusiasm for this special time of year with our guests. We hope you will join them and create your own top 10 list of favorites during Christmas at Biltmore!

Find everything you need to season your celebrations with cheer at Biltmore, or from the comfort of home with the convenience of online shopping at biltmoreshop.com.

Facebook Fans Help Create Our Christmas Wine Labels

For 2021, our Facebook fans helped create the labels for our Christmas at Biltmore Red and White Wines.

Facebook Fans helped create our Christmas wine labels
Facebook fans voting online chose the elements for both of our 2021 Christmas at Biltmore wine labels

“This is the fourth year that we’ve used this crowdsourcing process,” said Jill Whitfield, Senior Wine Marketing Manager. “By voting for their favorite holiday styles and themes, our Facebook fans really help us capture the spirit of our annual Christmas at Biltmore celebration on our Christmas wine labels.”

Local artist chosen to create our Christmas wine labels

Biltmore employee by Biltmore House column
Local artist and Biltmore employee Craig Sponsellor

The Biltmore wine marketing team selected artist Craig Sponseller of Asheville, North Carolina, to create two original paintings that would incorporate the holiday images and elements selected by Biltmore’s Facebook followers for our 2021 Christmas wine labels.

According to Craig, this project was especially meaningful because in addition to being an artist, he has also been a Biltmore employee for the past 10 years.

“I work in Mail Services,” said Craig, “and my days are filled with routines related to ensuring that mail is picked up and delivered. This opportunity to develop the artwork for the 2021 Christmas at Biltmore wine labels allowed me to tap into my creative side while focusing on all the beauty of the season here at the estate.”

Facebook fans select two distinct themes

Facebook fans helped choose the labels on Biltmore Christmas wine
The 2021 Christmas at Biltmore wines makes a perfect gift for someone special

After two rounds of online voting, some distinct themes emerged: our fans wanted both a wintry outdoor scene featuring the iconic architecture of Biltmore House, and a warm and wonderful tribute to the towering Banquet Hall Christmas tree inside America’s Largest Home®.

Capturing the exterior of Biltmore House

Sketch for the Christmas at Biltmore White Wine label
Part of Craig’s creative process is the creation of sketches like this that help him refine the details he’ll include in a painting

Craig began the process of creating the Christmas at Biltmore White Wine label by sketching the exterior elements of Biltmore House. He started with a pencil sketch, then refined the details with pen and ink.

“I’m a watercolor artist,” Craig explained, “and it is a very unforgiving medium. If you make a mistake or need to move something around, it’s impossible. That’s why I do the preliminary sketches and refinements so I can be sure I’m on the right track.”

Craig chose to showcase the familiar view from the wall at the end of the Front Lawn. To further the holiday mood, he added a touch of snow to give the painting a frosty feel.

Exterior pencil sketch of Biltmore House with touches of watercolor
Craig refined his initial sketches before adding layers of color washes to the final painting

As for the cheerful red cardinal on the rail, that’s the state bird of North Carolina, and a familiar sight around the estate during this time of year.

“The cardinal was a very specific element that Biltmore’s Facebook fans voted to include on both labels,” Craig said. “It was a challenge to portray a small bird in front of such a large house, but I placed it on the Rampe Douce railing so the cardinal would appear larger in the foreground.”

Creating the Banquet Hall view

Our Facebook fans also voted to see the beauty of the season inside Biltmore House, and Craig was happy to oblige.

Orange tree centerpieces in the Banquet Hall
Inspiration for Facebook fans included this Banquet Hall scene with iconic orange tree centerpieces i

For the Christmas at Biltmore Red Wine label, Craig was able to include many of the wonders in the Banquet Hall, from the grand Fraser fir that dominates the scene during the holidays to a grouping of festive orange tree centerpieces atop the massive dining table.

Pencil sketch for Biltmore Christmas wine label
One of Craig’s early pencil sketches for the Christmas at Biltmore Red Wine label includes the cardinal ornament on the tree in the foreground

“The real challenge here was how to include a cardinal in an indoor scene,” said Craig, “but I was able to work it in as an ornament!”

Stock up for the season on our Christmas wines and more!

Christmas at Biltmore Red and White Wines with Facebook fans labels
Make sure your holiday is seasoned with cheer when you choose Biltmore wines!

Whether you’re in the mood for a fragrant, semi-sweet white wine or a soft, fruit-forward red, our Christmas at Biltmore Wines offer a classic complement to your favorite flavors at the holiday buffet or dessert table. As an added bonus, the lovely labels make both wines a charming gift of the season for someone special.

Find our Christmas at Biltmore Red and White Wines and all your other handcrafted favorites in estate shops, online, or with our Retail Locator.

New Exhibition Series: Legends of Art & Innovation at Biltmore

Immerse yourself in our new exhibition series, Legends of Art & Innovation at Biltmore—featuring three different large-scale, multi-sensory experiences—hosted at Biltmore’s event center on the grounds of the estate.

Created and produced by Grande Experiences, each individual component of this must-see series uses the very latest in immersive technology to illuminate the remarkable lives of Van Gogh, Monet, and Da Vinci and their timeless masterpieces of art and design.

In addition, each of the three events offers fascinating ties to George Vanderbilt’s collection of treasures on display in Biltmore House, his magnificent family home in Asheville, North Carolina.

Van Gogh Alive
November 5, 2021–March 5, 2022

Van Gogh Alive multi-sensory experience
A guest explores Van Gogh Alive, created and produced by Grande Experiences

The masterworks of Vincent van Gogh have been displayed around the world for over a century, but never like this.

Described as “an unforgettable multi-sensory experience,” Van Gogh Alive is a powerful and vibrant symphony of light, color, sound, and scent that compels you to leave the world behind and immerse yourself the masterful paintings of Vincent Van Gogh.

Simultaneously enchanting, entertaining, and educational, Van Gogh Alive stimulates all the senses and opens the mind.

Van Gogh and Biltmore founder George Vanderbilt share a Dutch heritage that will be highlighted at the estate during this period.

Monet & Friends — Life, Light & Color
March 9–July 10, 2022

Monet & Friends multi-sensory exhibition
Explore Monet’s masterpieces throughout the Monet & Friends experience

An homage to Claude Monet and the Impressionist painters of the mid-19th century through the early 20th century, this multi-sensory experience explores not only the paintings themselves but the history of the Impressionist movement amid the social and political turbulence of the era.

It transports you back to a time when European art was poised to change forever, and immerses you in the Impressionists’ masterworks as they come to life in a rich display of light, color, and sound.

Breathtaking paintings are projected on an enormous scale, illuminating the bold brushstrokes of Claude Monet, Camille Pissarro, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Paul Cézanne, Edgar Degas, and more.

While Monet & Friends Life, Light & Color is on display at Biltmore’s event center on the grounds of the estate, two original Monet paintings from George Vanderbilt’s personal collection will be displayed inside America’s Largest Home®.

Leonardo da Vinci — 500 Years of Genius
July 14, 2022–January 8, 2023

Leonardo da Vinci -- 500 Years of Genius experience
Discover marvels of art and invention with Leonardo da Vinci — 500 Years of Genius

Inventor, artist, scientist, engineer, sculptor, anatomist, musician, architect, philosopher—Leonardo da Vinci was all of these things.

His brilliance and many extraordinary achievements are brought to vivid life in Leonardo da Vinci – 500 Years of Genius, the world’s most comprehensive and thrilling Leonardo da Vinci experience.

Biltmore will be showcasing links to estate architecture and artwork in our collection that are influenced by da Vinci’s designs.

Don’t miss our Legends of Art & Innovation at Biltmore exhibition series!

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

Each of the three Legends of Art & Innovation at Biltmore multi-sensory experiences will be hosted at Amherst at Deerpark®, our event center on the grounds of the estate.

Plan your visit to Van Gogh Alive, Monet & Friends and Leonardo da Vinci now, and enhance your experience with special overnight offers at our distinctive hotels and historic cottages.

Celebrate Our 125th Anniversary with Sparkling Wine

To celebrate our 125th anniversary, Biltmore Winemaker Sharon Fenchak created a sparkling wine to commemorate the occasion.

Here’s a brief history of the first Christmas event at Biltmore, and the seasonal spirit that inspired our new Biltmore Estate® 125th Anniversary Release Brut sparkling wine.

Biltmore’s first Christmas

Celebrate Christmas at Biltmore
The towering Banquet Hall Christmas tree has been a tradition for 125 years

On Christmas Eve of 1895, George Vanderbilt welcomed his friends and family to celebrate the holiday in his magnificent new home. The following account of “Christmas at Biltmore” was reported in The Times-Democrat newspaper from New Orleans, Louisiana, two days later:

Newspaper account of the celebration

Floral team members install garland
Garlands and greenery are still used to decorate Biltmore House

“For many days workmen were enhancing the splendor of the chateau with decorations appropriate to the Christmas season, under the direction of Mr. Vanderbilt. His suggestions have covered every detail, and a beautiful and elaborate scene was unfolded before his guests yesterday.

Decoration of the planthouse (Winter Garden) is the chief feature. The design called for an unobstructed view from all the approaches within the chateau, and the idea is thoroughly realistic. The exquisite charm of the enclosed garden is apparent at the first glance as the guests enter the main floor.

Winter Garden in Biltmore House
The Winter Garden decorated for Christmas at Biltmore in 2020

Above, from a symmetrical dome, fall great festoons of spruce and waxen holly, forming arching lines, while garlands of the same evergreens adorn each point of vantage. The effect is as if a vast green canopy had been erected under the span of the dome, the supports of which, also laden with green, serve as pillars of the canopy.

About the floor of the planthouse innumerable palms and ferns are arranged in such a way as to give all the natural effect of a garden in the opening of a tropical forest. That eye may not be wearied with one unvaried hue of green, many plants in full bloom are placed here and there in the planthouse, their color being used to the fullest advantage.

Enornous red berry wreath in the Library at Biltmore House
This enormous berry-and-ribbon wreath in the Library recalls the natural decor from Biltmore’s first Christmas celebration

The forests of Biltmore estate afforded a wealth of the desired foliage, and plants from a New York florist, who arranged the whole scene, and bushels of scarlet holly berries were ordered from the marshes of Eastern Carolina and were used in ornamentation of the chateau.”

The tradition continues

This year marks the 125th time that the halls of Biltmore House have been decked in honor of Christmas. As part of the celebration, Biltmore Winemaker Sharon Fenchak spent months developing our new Biltmore Estate® 125th Anniversary Release Brut.

Celebrate Our 125th Anniversary with Sparkling Wine

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

“This sparkling wine is handcrafted in the traditional méthode champenoise with Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes selected from partner vineyards in California,” said Jill Whitfield, Senior Wine Marketing Manager.

“It’s a wonderful wine with a touch of rose gold color and aromas of tangerine, yeast, strawberry, and honey,” Jill said. “The taste is refreshing and nicely balanced with tiny bubbles and hints of strawberry, mint, and Meyer lemon.”

Pouring Biltmore sparkling wine into a glass
Celebrate our anniversary–or yours–with the new Biltmore Estate 125th Anniversary Release Brut

According to Jill, this is an excellent sparkling wine to pair with charcuterie and cheese boards, fresh fruit, caviar, steak tartar, scallops, and angel food cake with strawberries.

Perfect for any occasion!

Couple drinking winter wines while they savor in place at home
Include Biltmore wines in your Valentine’s Day celebration!

“It’s also perfect for ringing in the New Year, or giving as a thoughtful gift of the season,” noted Jill. “And be sure to have plenty of our exceptional Biltmore bubbles on hand for your Valentine’s Day celebrations!”

Fans Choose Our 2020 Christmas Wine Labels

(Please enjoy this archived content from Christmas 2020.)

For the past three years, our Facebook fans have been the ones to choose the style of our Christmas at Biltmore Wine labels.

Crowdsourcing our Christmas wine labels

Fans choose our 2020 Christmas Wine Labels
Indoor and outdoor holiday elements were chosen by our Facebook fans for 2020

“It’s worked so well that we keep doing it,” said Chris Price, Wine Marketing Manager. “By voting for the Christmas wine label styles and themes on Facebook, our fans really help us capture the spirit of the season.”

Working with a North Carolina artist

The Biltmore wine marketing team selected artist Denise Nelson of Sherrils Ford, North Carolina, to create two original paintings that would incorporate the holiday images and elements selected by Biltmore’s Facebook followers for our Christmas wine labels.

Christmas at Biltmore white and red wines
Your virtual tasting theme can be anything you like, including Christmas at Biltmore white and red wines!

Two winning themes emerged after two rounds of online voting: a wonderfully warm vignette in the grand Library of Biltmore House, and a whimsical outdoor scene featuring the iconic architecture of America’s Largest Home®.

Images tell a special story

Fans choose themes for our 2020 Christmas Wine labels
Paintings in progress: artwork for both labels side-by-side in Denise Nelson’s studio

According to the artist, her assignment felt a little overwhelming at first because both the Library and the house are so richly detailed, but as she began working with the two different ideas that were selected, the images began to tell their own special stories.

Fans choose themes for our 2020 Christmas Wine labels
Denise builds layers of warm color and delightful detail for the Christmas at Biltmore Red Wine label painting

“I started with the Christmas at Biltmore Red Wine label,” Denise said. ” It was delightful to present an interior view of the house that includes a child’s rocking horse and Cedric, the Vanderbilts’ beloved Saint Bernard, resting on the hearth in front of the massive fireplace.”

Detail of Cedric the St. Bernard for our 2020 Christmas at Biltmore Red Wine label
Denise captured Cedric the St. Bernard in magnificent detail, from the rough texture of his coat to the firelight reflected in his eyes

Denise was able to work in other wonderful Library details, like cheerful Christmas décor and a glimpse of Pelligrini’s The Chariot of Aurora ceiling painting soaring overhead.

Classic architecture meets frosty fun

Artist's palette with colors for Christmas at Biltmore Wine labels
Denise kept her colors cool for the Christmas at Biltmore White Wine label

Fans also voted to see a snowy outdoor scene featuring Biltmore House at night, and Denise was happy to oblige.

Fans choose themes like this snowman for our 2020 Christmas Wine labels
For the Christmas at Biltmore White Wine label, Denise painted a timeless winter scene that looks as if the Vanderbilts and their guests might have created this cheerful snowman before returning to the warmth of Biltmore House!

“I imagined a nicely chilled bottle of Christmas at Biltmore White Wine,” said Denise, “and that helped me capture the tone of the season. You’ll see the windows of Biltmore House alight for the holidays, and a cheerful snowman in a red scarf adds a bit of frosty fun to the formal architecture.”

Give a thoughtful gift of wine this season

Christmas at Biltmore wines with dessert
Christmas at Biltmore Wines are perfect for gift giving and for complementing your favorite flavors at the holiday buffet or dessert table

Whether you’re in the mood for a fragrant, semi-sweet white wine or a soft, fruit-forward red, our Christmas at Biltmore Wines offer a classic complement to your favorite flavors at the holiday buffet or dessert table. As an added bonus, the lovely labels make both wines a charming gift of the season for someone special.

Decking the Halls, Biltmore Style

Please enjoy this archived content from Christmas 2019.

Each year, our Floral Displays team decks the halls of America’s Largest Home® for Christmas at Biltmore.

For 2019, discover how they draw inspiration from the beautiful details, including the art and furnishings, in Biltmore House.

Winter Garden and Surroundings

Decorating Christmas trees in Biltmore House
Norene Barrett puts finishing touches on a Christmas tree topper

Norene Barrett began working at Biltmore 18 years ago in the mail services department. Though she enjoyed her role, she looked for different ways to express her own creativity.

In 2015, after taking an intensive course in floral design, Norene joined Floral Displays and is now responsible for decorating sections of Biltmore House and the estate.

Decorating Christmas trees in Biltmore House
Floral team members Feny Bryan, Norene Barrett, and Kathy Nameth decorate a trio of trees inspired by the Greek friezes on the wall

“This trio of trees is meant to take guests back in time,” Norene said of her design for the area between the Winter Garden and the Billiard Room. “The trees are cheery and bright, but I used a lot of white elements for continuity with the series of Greek friezes on the walls.”

Norene added snowy branches to her décor along with period ornaments to bring a nostalgic feeling of Christmas past.

Winter Garden in Biltmore House decorated for Christmas at Biltmore
Winter Garden decorated for Christmas at Biltmore

For the Winter Garden, Norene is planning to light the evergreen garlands so that they glow, and instead of traditional kissing balls suspended from the greenery, she has created sparkling swags that catch the light. She’ll also add plenty of poinsettias to emphasize the garden feel of the space.

Breakfast Room

Adding ornaments to a Christmas tree in the Breakfast Room
Joslyn Kelly adds ornaments to the Breakfast Room tree

“This is the room where the family would eat breakfast, so I wanted it to have a warm, homey feeling as if you’re being welcomed to the table,” said Joslyn Kelly, floral designer.

Pink ornaments for the Breakfast Room
A selection of red and pink Christmas ornaments chosen to complement the Breakfast Room decor

Drawing inspiration from the room’s elegant cut velvet draperies and upholstery, Joslyn selected ornaments in a range of pinks and reds to complement the lovely patterns and colors of the fabric.

Floral displays on the Breakfast Room table
Lush floral displays and cranberry topiaries top the Breakfast Room table during Christmas at Biltmore

Look for glorious floral arrangements, towering topiaries of deep burgundy cranberries, and gilded pears among the delicate crystal and china place settings on the table.

Morning Salon

Nativity scene in the Tapestry Gallery
The estate’s Nativity scene, often staged in the Tapestry Gallery in years past

Cristy Leonard has been a member of the floral team for seven years, and the Salon is one of her areas to decorate for our 2019 Christmas at Biltmore celebration.

The estate’s large traditional Nativity will be staged in the Salon this year, and according to Cristy, the set has been a major source of inspiration for her designs.

“I’ve planned special new surroundings that includes twinkling lights to resemble nighttime in Bethlehem,” Cristy said.

Biltmore designer holds ornaments she created
Cristy Leonard displays ornaments she created for the Salon tree

Cristy chose to decorate the Salon’s main tree in brilliant peacock blues and greens with bright touches of gold. She added cherubs, gilded grapes, and grapevines to symbolize the prosperity and blessings of the season.

Christmas tree in Biltmore House Salon
Salon Christmas tree wound with gold fabric

As a finishing touch, Cristy swathed the tree in yards of gauzy golden fabric, echoing the look of the room’s iconic draped and tented ceiling.

Third Floor Living Hall

Staff favorites: Harpist playing in the Third Floor Living Hall
A harpist plays Christmas carols in the Third Floor Living Hall

During the Vanderbilt era, Third Floor Living Hall was a place for guests to relax in the evenings, share the events of the day, and perhaps read or catch up with friends.

Michelle Warren of Biltmore’s floral team created a child’s tree for this room, complete with dolls, toys, and wooden soldiers around the base, ready for the younger set to play with them while their parents indulged in a sing-along or a game of cards.

Humpty Dumpty toy under Christmas tree
A whimsical Humpty Dumpty and other toys under the Third Floor Living Hall Christmas tree

As you enter Third Floor Living Hall, look for a charming scene featuring a table set up with paper, ribbon, and tags, just as if Edith Vanderbilt were wrapping her gifts for the Christmas season!

Other 2019 Christmas at Biltmore highlights:

  • Grand Staircase
    • This elegant Christmas tree is centered under the Grand Staircase Chandelier, making it appear as though the four-story light is the tree topper.
  • Banquet Hall
    • From the 35-foot fresh Fraser fir at one end to the triple fireplaces at the other, the Banquet Hall is a traditional guest favorite and one of the most beloved rooms in Biltmore House.
  • Library
    • Themed around the idea of Christmas Traditions, the Library incorporates traditional colors such as gold, red, green, plaids, and a tartan print.
  • Oak Sitting Room
    • The colorful décor in rich jewel tones of red, cobalt, gold, and green is drawn from the room’s splendid Axminster—the only rug of English origin in Biltmore House.
  • Mrs. Vanderbilt’s Bedroom
    • The tree ornaments are inspired by the Vanderbilts’ courtship which took place in Paris. The room features a soft mix of lilac, amber, and cream colors drawn from the distinctive oval ceiling.
  • Main Kitchen
    • Look for a whimsical gingerbread replica of Biltmore House.

Christmas at Biltmore

Enjoy the daytime celebration November 1, 2019–January 5, 2020, and experience Candlelight Christmas Evenings through January 4, 2020.

Crowdsourcing Biltmore’s 2019 Christmas Wine Labels

Thank you for enjoying this archived information about our 2019 Christmas at Biltmore wine labels!

Ready to pour on the cheer this holiday season? We’re excited to share the process of crowdsourcing our 2019 Christmas at Biltmore® Wine labels!

“In previous years, we held a competition for artists to share their interpretation of what Christmas at Biltmore means to them,” said Jill Whitfield, senior wine marketing manager. “We chose several finalists, then asked our online audience to vote for their favorite design.”

Crowdsourcing for creativity

In 2018, Biltmore Wines decided to shake things up a bit. Instead of asking artists to submit their work, they asked our Facebook followers to help them develop that year’s Christmas label, one step at a time.

It worked so well that we decided to repeat the process of crowdsourcing our 2019 Christmas at Biltmore Wine labels.

Creating mood boards

Mood boards with frosty and cozy themes

Mood boards featuring #Frosty and #Cozy elements

“First, we worked with Biltmore’s art team to create a pair of mood boards,” Jill explained. “One featured #Frosty elements including a palette of cool, wintry colors and silvery metallics. The other was #Cozy, with warmer tones and sparkling gold ornaments. We then posted them on Facebook and asked our fans and followers to vote for their favorite mood.” 

Setting the tone

For the second phase of voting, Lisa Vogel, Art Director, pulled together two “tone” boards so voters could choose between themes representing a #Vintage look represented by an old-fashioned Christmas card and a #Modern look with a clean graphic feel.

Facebook fans liked both of the themes, but their final preference was for #Vintage.

Theme boards with #Modern and #Vintage elements

Boards with #Contemporary and #Vintage themes

Crowd favorite

With the mood and theme decided, it was time to get Asheville artist Jeff Pittman involved in the project. He drew inspiration from the boards to create two representations of Biltmore on which Facebook followers would have the final vote.

Both #Vista and #Reflections were popular, but #Reflections—featuring the west façade of Biltmore House on the hill above the Lagoon—was the winner.

Jeff refined the initial #Reflections painting he created with more detail and a few more festive touches. “Everyone loved both of Jeff Pittman’s offerings” said Lisa, “but I think it may have been the peaceful pair of Canadian geese crossing the Lagoon that made #Reflections such a crowd favorite!”

Paintings showing different views of Biltmore House

Jeff Pittman’s two representations of a Biltmore Christmas scene

Creating original artwork

What happened next?

“Jeff went to work in his studio,” Lisa said, “and created the final artwork that would become the labels for our 2019 Christmas at Biltmore Red Wine and Christmas at Biltmore White Wine.”

Asheville artist Jeff Pitman painting the 2019 Biltmore Christmas Wine label

Jeff Pittman at work on the 2019 Christmas at Biltmore Wine label

The finished label celebrates the natural splendor of this special season at Biltmore

“The voters made it clear what they wanted,” said Jill, “and that’s why crowdsourcing is such a great way to engage your audience—it gives your most loyal followers a voice in what you’re creating for them.”

Finished painting for the 2019 Biltmore Christmas wine label

Finished artwork in Jeff’s studio

Join us at the Winery on the following dates in November and December to meet artist Jeff Pittman and have your bottles of Christmas at Biltmore Red Wine and Christmas at Biltmore White Wine signed by him.

Meet the artist

  • November 8, 4 p.m.–6 p.m.
  • December 13, 4 p.m.–6 p.m.

Pour on the cheer with Biltmore wines

Christmas tree with Biltmore wines and desserts

Choose any of our fine wines for holiday celebrations

Purchase any of our fine wines—including Christmas at Biltmore Red Wine (soft and fruit-forward with flavors of berry and spice to complement holiday dishes including ham, turkey, and blackberry pie à la mode) and Christmas at Biltmore White Wine (fragrant and semi-sweet with flavors of apricot, spice, and citrus to pair with holiday dishes like sweet potato casserole, apple pie, and pumpkin pie)—at estate shops or online

Remembering our Christmas past

Christmas has always been celebrated in grand style at Biltmore, beginning with the opening of Biltmore House on Christmas Eve 1895 and continuing today with Christmas at Biltmore. The festivities have always included friends and family, plus a special party for employees of the estate.

Creating traditions

While George Vanderbilt was still a bachelor, he enlisted the help of Mrs. Charles McNamee, the wife of his friend who assisted in purchasing land for the estate, to provide Christmas gifts for 300–500 guests, including estate workers and their families. Mr. Vanderbilt greeted everyone in the Banquet Hall on Christmas afternoon, and members of his own family helped distribute the gifts which included Christmas trees and trimmings for estate employees to decorate their own homes.

In 1897, Biltmore’s Christmas celebration took place at All Souls Parish in Biltmore Village because George Vanderbilt was away from home. According to a report in the Semi-Weekly Citizen, there were “toys and candy and cakes and oranges for the little ones, and books and articles useful and ornamental, dress goods and jerseys, ties and gloves, for the older folk. As in previous and future celebrations, refreshments were served, including ice cream, cake, and bananas.”

Cornelia Vanderbilt and her cousin John Nicholas Brown in 1905

Cornelia Vanderbilt and her cousin John Nicholas Brown, 1905

Celebrating with friends and family

George Vanderbilt married Edith Dresser in 1898, and she took an immediate and active interest in the estate’s annual Christmas festivities. In 1905, when George and Edith Vanderbilt’s only child Cornelia would have been five years old, the New York Times reported the following details about the holiday cheer at Biltmore:

“Mr. and Mrs. George W. Vanderbilt this afternoon provided for nearly a thousand children of Biltmore estate employees a big tree in the banquet hall of the chateau. The little ones were loaded with useful gifts and toys…bought in Asheville in the last week…Mr. and Mrs. Vanderbilt welcomed each of the little guests, many of whom came twenty miles from the coves and mountain tops of the Vanderbilt forest domain, some walking, some by ox team and some mule back…. Mr. and Mrs. Vanderbilt…personally distributed all the gifts, aided by Mrs. Edith Wharton, Mr. Wharton, and Mrs. Ernesto G. Fabbri (George Vanderbilt’s niece].”

In her oral history, Edith Cauble, whose parents worked on the estate, recalls:

“Christmas parties where Mr. Vanderbilt stood on one side of the front door of the House in tails, and Edith stood on the other side wearing a long velvet dress giving out oranges and candy. In the Banquet Hall there was music and Cornelia would run around with the other children.”
 
Biltmore Employee Christmas party in 1916Employee Christmas party at Antler Hall, ca. 1916

Edith and Cornelia Vanderbilt continued the employee Christmas parties even after George Vanderbilt passed away in 1914. In 1916, the event took place outdoors at Antler Hall—a large home originally located where The Inn on Biltmore Estate™ now sits. In the archival photograph featured here, you can see Edith Vanderbilt just to the right of center wearing a dark hat, and Cornelia to her left in a white hat.

Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus at the entrance to Biltmore HouseSanta and Mrs. Claus welcome guests to Biltmore

The tradition continues

Today, more than a century after the first holiday festivities at Biltmore, we continue to host our annual Christmas party for employees. It is still a grand occasion with gifts for the children, visits with Santa and Mrs. Claus, and delicious refreshments—and a wonderful opportunity to see America’s Largest Home® lit by the glow of candles and firelight during Candlelight Christmas Evenings.

Featured blog image: Photographs of George Vanderbilt’s parents (William Henry Vanderbilt and Maria Louisa Kissam Vanderbilt)