Biltmore Winery Celebrates 35 Years of Cheers!

As Biltmore Winery celebrates 35 years of cheers this May, we invite you to raise a glass in honor of our anniversary and in honor of NC Wine Month!

Biltmore Winery celbrates 35 years with a special Chardonnay
Our 35th Anniversary Chardonnay was handcrafted to celebrate the Winery

And what’s in that glass you’re raising? Biltmore winemaker Sharon Fenchak has created something truly special for the Winery’s anniversary–a barrel fermented, barrel aged Chardonnay handcrafted from grapes grown in the estate’s own vineyards.

Crafting a special wine for the occasion

“I selected the fruit for our 35th Anniversary Chardonnay from a very special group of clones that I’ve been helping nurture for nearly 20 years in Biltmore’s vineyard,” said Sharon.

Biltmore winemaker Sharon Fenchak in the vineyard
Sharon has helped nurture the Chardonnay Dijon clones in Biltmore’s vineyard for nearly 20 years

“The term ‘clone’ refers to a cutting or bud from an original varietal,” Sharon said, “and these clones are from old-world Chardonnay vines in Dijon, France.

According to Sharon, these clones produce smaller, looser clusters of grapes with more intense flavors and aromatics that result in a unique and distinctive style of Chardonnay.

The winemaking process

Wine barrels in Biltmore's Barrel Room

In addition to the careful selection of the varietal, Sharon chose to ferment the 35th Anniversary Chardonnay in barrels rather than steel tanks because the exothermic reaction of fermentation helps incorporate more of the barrel flavor and aromas into the wine.

“From its opening bouquet of butter, creamy vanilla, and a bit of green apple, you immediately know this isn’t your average Chardonnay,” said Sharon. “And as you sip, you’ll taste delightful flavors of Meyer lemon and a hint of creamy custard. This barrel-fermented and barrel-aged wine is soft, smooth, and features a subtle acidity.”

Perfect pairings

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

Sharon recommends savoring the Chardonnay with shrimp Alfredo, tuna Niçoise, Caesar salad, and classic southern seven-layer salad. For a delightful dessert pairing, serve some zesty lemon bars that echo the wine’s classic citrus notes.

“Consider enjoying the Chardonnay during dinner alfresco with friends,” Sharon said, “and be sure to raise a glass to the past and present of Biltmore’s Winery!”

Biltmore Winery celebrates 35 years of cheers

Biltmore Winery 35th Anniversary Chardonnay on a table with glasses
Celebrate Biltmore Winery’s 35th anniversary with our special 35th Anniversary Chardonnay

Along with our limited release 35th Anniversary Chardonnay, you can find all our handcrafted Biltmore wines online.

Thank you for making the last three-and-a-half decades so successful for Biltmore’s Winery, and cheers to the next 35 years!

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

Sun shining through grapes 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
Sharon has helped nurture the Chardonnay Dijon clones in Biltmore’s vineyard for nearly 20 years

“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
Savor the art and science of Biltmore wines by the bottle or glass!

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.