Discover Biltmore’s Working Winery

Discover Biltmore’s working winery this May during North Carolina Wine Month, and learn how we handcraft our award-winning Biltmore wines.

Biltmore’s Wine History

George Vanderbilt was known as a thoughtful collector of wines who wove an appreciation for fine wines into the fabric of the Biltmore experience, making it part of his legacy for gracious living.

While Mr. Vanderbilt introduced the pleasures of wine to Biltmore, it was his grandson, William A.V. Cecil, who had the vision and determination to develop vineyards and a winery at his family’s estate in the early 1970s.

Creating Biltmore’s working winery

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

In 1983, renovation began on the estate’s original dairy barn to convert it into a state-of-the-art winery, complete with production facilities, a tasting room, and a wine shop.

Bill Cecil, Jr., son of William A.V. Cecil and great-grandson of George Vanderbilt, assumed a leadership role in overseeing the project. “It wasn’t easy to turn an old barn into a new working winery,” said Bill, “but we knew it was important to keep the integrity of the original structure, and that helped us make each decision along the way.”

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

Biltmore Winemaker Sharon Fenchak

Since the Biltmore Winery opened in 1985, we attribute much of our success to our talented winemakers: Philippe Jourdain, Bernard Delille, and Sharon Fenchak, who joined the Winery team as assistant winemaker in 1999 and was promoted to winemaker in 2003.

Sharon now oversees Biltmore Wines as winemaker and vice president. Just like her predecessors, Sharon remains committed to handcrafting Biltmore Wines with the philosophy of keeping each wine true to varietal character, food-friendly, and consistent from vintage to vintage.

Steel tanks in Biltmore's working winery
Steel tanks used in the winemaking process at Biltmore

“Tastes change over time,” said Sharon. “Our wines are crafted in a classic style, but we keep our production facility up-to-date and we take advantage of technology and trends that help us improve our skills. It’s very important that we constantly learn more about what our guests enjoy so we can continue to produce wines they seek out here at the estate or in their own homes.”

Biltmore’s vineyard

According to Philip Oglesby, Vineyard Supervisor, Biltmore’s harvest season begins in late August with early-ripening white varietals such as Chardonnay. Vineyard crews pick grapes by hand throughout September and into October, giving the red varietals like Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc more time to mature.

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

“Within hours of being harvested, the grapes grown in our own vineyard on the west side of the estate are brought to the crush dock behind the Winery,” said Philip. “As the next phase of the winemaking process begins, we look forward to learning which wines will be created—especially those that earn the Biltmore® Reserve label that honors exceptional North Carolina vintages from Biltmore and our local growing partners.” 

Although most wineries specialize in either still or sparkling wines, we handcraft both here at the estate—just another distinction that sets Biltmore’s working winery apart.

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

Cheers to our working winery and our handcrafted wines!

Join us at the Winery to enjoy the fruits of our labor! Make reservations to savor complimentary tastings of our wines in the Tasting Room, take a deeper dive into our working winery with a Red Wine and Chocolate Tasting, or simply relax at the Wine Bar with any of our wines by the glass or bottle. 

Purchase Biltmore wines at the estate and online—or become a member of the Vanderbilt Wine Club and enjoy having our wines shipped directly to your door each season.

Featured image: Biltmore Winery entrance in Antler Hill Village
 

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

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.