Spring & Early Summer 2021
Spring and Summer: We’re here when you’re ready for a quick getaway.
Biltmore is just a short car trip from many cities along the East Coast. With wide open spaces, and a storied history, Biltmore offers so much variety that it has something for families, history buffs, art and antiques lovers, garden and gardening fans, architecture aficionados, wine lovers, and foodies. Step back in time with us!
New at Biltmore
National Preservation Month marks the completion of a 15-year restoration project in Biltmore House
May is National Preservation Month and coincides with the May 28 opening of a large conservation project in Biltmore House that has been in the works for 15 years – the Oak Sitting Room restoration. This project returns the Oak Sitting Room to its original appearance as it was during the Vanderbilt era of 1895-1914.
Biltmore curator Lori Garst describes this room as being “the heart” of George W. Vanderbilt. “It was a sort of sanctuary for the family, a place they may have retreated to for solace and alone time,” said Garst. “It also showcases Biltmore’s founder as not only an aristocrat, but a lifelong scholar, collector, and patron of the arts.”
The Oak Sitting Room was treated as a private living room for George Vanderbilt, his wife Edith and their daughter Cornelia. The family’s most cherished guests were invited into this space. It also functioned as a private gallery where George Vanderbilt showcased some of his most prized collections, including a number of Rembrandt etchings.
Preservation of Biltmore is an ongoing mission, and this project is one example of how that mission is carried out. Like detectives, Biltmore’s Museum Services team members carefully sifted through photographs, letters, and other details for clues to the furnishings and objects that were found in the room originally. Read more on the Biltmore blog.
Stickwork by Patrick Dougherty: “Free as a Bird” new outdoor sculptural work
A unique-to-Biltmore, large-scale outdoor sculptural work by environmental artist Patrick Dougherty has brought whimsy and playfulness to the estate’s Antler Hill Village. During the last three decades, this internationally-acclaimed artist has combined his carpentry skills and love of nature to build more than 300 of these wondrous works, captivating the hearts and imaginations of viewers worldwide. Biltmore unveiled its own sculpture on April 1, entitled “Free as a Bird.” Dougherty crafted the whimsical labyrinth on site, made entirely of woven willow branches. Guests to the estate are invited to explore inside the sculpture, taking in its rooms, windows and doors. Stickwork by Patrick Dougherty will be open at Biltmore through Sept. 30, 2021. Photos are available for download of the “Free as a Bird” Stickwork installation at Biltmore.
Art In Bloom inside Biltmore House
Does the thought of creating an 11-foot flower arrangement seem daunting? For Cristy Leonard, floral designer at Biltmore House, the enormity and challenge fazes her not one bit. The arrangement she created for Art in Bloom, a new guest experience pairing works of art from the Vanderbilt family connection with over-the-top floral designs, covers nearly the entire length of the massive dining room table in the Banquet Hall, the biggest room in America’s Largest Home. Design inspiration for it comes from “Vulcan Forging and Spreading the Net,” the 16th century tapestry hanging on the wall behind the table. Cristy selected moss and ropy grape vine as the base to reference Vulcan casting the net to ensnare his wife, Venus, and her paramour, Mars. For her florals, she researched the language of flowers to select flowers and plant material that would refer to the range of emotions depicted in the tapestry’s story. The King Protea blossom for “challenge of desire,” and red Poppy for “extravagance.” To date, this is the largest arrangement Cristy has designed. We think it won’t be her last. More about Art in Bloom is available in this fact sheet. Photos are available for download within the “Biltmore Blooms” photo gallery.
Olmsted’s Last Masterpiece and Biltmore Blooms
Biltmore is in the throes of springtime at the moment, and we’re reveling in the beauty and warmth of the season. During Biltmore Blooms, we celebrate the contributions made by Frederick Law Olmsted, designer of the estate’s grounds and gardens. George Vanderbilt hired Mr. Olmsted who was known at the time for his prolific career as a landscape architect of public and private parks. New York City’s Central Park, the Grounds of the U.S. Capitol and the White House, and Boston’s Emerald Necklace are among his most well-known designs. Biltmore was his last design, and as he approached the end of his work on the estate, he said, “It is a great work of peace we are engaged in and one of these days we will all be proud of our parts in it.” Today, guests can learn what’s currently blooming in the gardens to plan their trips to Biltmore with our Bloom Report. Biltmore Blooms runs through May 27.
Fashion in Biltmore House
Biltmore’s Museum Services team has placed reproductions of Vanderbilt family clothing in rooms along the guest route that represent major milestones in the family’s lives. The clothing was reproduced by Academy Award-Winning Costume Designer John Bright. Bright used archival photography and information from letters from Biltmore’s archives to recreate the designs. The clothing adds an extra layer of storytelling and enhances the environment of the rooms. The vignette in the Tapestry Gallery, for example, revisits the era when George and Edith Vanderbilt became parents to their daughter, Cornelia. More about the clothing reproductions is available in this post on our blog.
Biltmore Wines & Winery
Start summer off with National Wine Day & Chardonnay Day
National Wine Day (May 25) and National Chardonnay Day (May 27) occur right before Memorial Day weekend and bring to mind the importance of Chardonnay to Biltmore’s winemaking program. One of the most versatile grapes, Chardonnay can be found in a wide variety of terroirs and be used to make almost all styles of wine, from still to sparkling to sweet. Nielsen data shows that it is the second most popular wine in the U.S. by sales volume, after Cabernet Sauvignon. Biltmore Winemaker Sharon Fenchak is available for interviews about making wines from Chardonnay grapes in Asheville, North Carolina as it is one of the grapes grown best in Biltmore’s vineyard. Biltmore also sources fruit from premium wine growing regions. Chardonnay is used in a number of Biltmore wines, including blends like Révant, Biltmore Reserve Chardonnay North Carolina, Biltmore Estate Chardonnay, and in a number of Biltmore sparkling wines.
New Wine! Biltmore’s Révant
Révant is the newest addition to Biltmore’s wine line-up, perfect for spring and summer sipping. Just released to the market, Révant is an off dry white wine with floral notes and consists of a blend of Chardonnay, Viognier, Pinot Grigio, Riesling, Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc. Its distinctive label design features an enhanced photograph of an architectural detail on the facade of Biltmore House, and the name of the wine was drawn from the French word for dreams. Crisp and refreshing, Révant is a great recommendation for brunch, or even for Mother’s Day coming up. Suggested food pairings available upon request.
Stay at Biltmore
Farm stays at Biltmore, including a newly renovated historic farm cottage now housing guests
From the beginning when George Vanderbilt envisioned Biltmore in the 1890s, he intended Biltmore to be a working estate and farm. After visiting several working estates in Europe, he wanted to create something similar here in the United States. He set aside acres of land along the French Broad River for raising livestock and growing food for Biltmore House, with surplus produce sold in the western North Carolina community. Today, Biltmore continues that legacy by operating a working farm on its 8000-acre property.
A NEW package called “Around the Farm” is available at Village Hotel and The Inn on Biltmore Estate through Sept. 30, inviting guests to explore life on this working farm and Biltmore’s commitment to sustainability. Designed to re-connect with nature and get back to basics, the package offers a farm and forest tour and exclusive farm experiences at Biltmore.
Did you know that a few lodging properties on the estate have a direct connection to its agricultural roots?
- The Village Hotel on Biltmore Estate stands in the original location that served as the center of agriculture on the estate. As such, the hotel was designed to have a cozy farmhouse feel and to interpret the farm history of the estate, with archival photos from its agricultural past on prominent display. A short walk from the hotel is Antler Hill Farmyard for an introduction to farm life and farm animals that were and continue to be an integral part of life on the estate. Animals residing at the farmyard may include laying hens, lambs, calves, goats, and draft horses.
- Two historic cottages from Biltmore’s agricultural past now accommodate overnight guests: The Market Gardener’s Cottage was built by the son of the architect of Biltmore House and was the original property for the Market Garden on the estate. Today it offers the most luxurious and private retreat on the estate, with quaint porches and the opportunity for a private chef and butler. The Dairy Foreman’s Cottage is the newest lodging option on the estate, as it was recently renovated to house guests. This welcoming home was one of five identical houses designed in 1935 for Biltmore Dairy employees and their families. Located in a peaceful woodland setting, it is within walking distance to nature trails, Antler Hill Village and Winery, and the four-star Inn.
The Vanderbilts At Home & Abroad
This exciting exhibit returns to Legacy in Antler Hill Village on May 1. This fascinating look at the lives of George, Edith and Cornelia Vanderbilt features rare objects from Biltmore’s collection and stories pulled from estate archives provide an insider’s look into a bygone era. Private family photos and priceless objects provide a tangible bridge to the past, and reveal a family that valued intellectual curiosity, new cultures and history. Detailed stories and rare artifacts, such as the silver tea service from George Vanderbilt’s private rail car, and the Vanderbilts’ original guest book for Biltmore House, paint the picture of a home filled with joy and hospitality.
Van Gogh, Monet, and Da Vinci series coming November 2021
Biltmore continues to present exciting visiting exhibitions for guests with its recent announcement of Legends of Art & Innovation at Biltmore. Opening this November (and coinciding with Christmas at Biltmore), this year-long series of multi-sensory experiences illuminate the remarkable lives of Van Gogh, Monet, and Da Vinci. From start to finish, visitors are surrounded by a vibrant symphony of light, color, sound and fragrance that has been called an ‘unforgettable’ multi-sensory experience. The series is a fitting addition to the Biltmore experience since George and Edith Vanderbilt were passionate patrons of the arts. It’s also the only location where you can see all three of these exhibits. More about the experiences and photos for download may be found here.
Historic Biltmore Milestones
- April 26, 2021: 199th birthday of Frederick Law Olmsted, designer of Biltmore’s gardens and grounds
- April 29, 1924: Cornelia Stuvyesant Vanderbilt, daughter of George and Edith Vanderbilt, marries John Cecil. Six years later, the couple opened Biltmore House for public tours for the first time.
- April 29, 2014: A very sweet discovery occurred when Biltmore’s Museum Services Team acquired a curious artifact – curious and, at one time, edible! Asheville resident Frederick Cothran donated what he thought was preserved cheese from Biltmore House but in fact turned out to be a piece of wedding cake beautifully wrapped into a keepsake box handed out to guests who attended the 1924 wedding of Cornelia Vanderbilt and John Cecil. More about this sugary tale may be found here.
- May 27, 1794: Cornelius “The Commodore” Vanderbilt, patriarch of the Vanderbilt family is born in Staten Island, New York. Cornelius was George Vanderbilt’s grandfather, and started a small ferry service with a $100 loan from his mother. The service grew into a fleet of more than 100 steamboats that crossed the globe. The Commodore’s large family included 13 children, 37 grandchildren, and 27 great-grandchildren. Upon his death, he left his $100 million estate to his eldest son, William Henry. More about the Vanderbilts may be found here.