Preserving Stable Courtyard, Brick by Brick

For over a century, the brick pavers of the Stable Courtyard adjacent to Biltmore House have supported everything from horse and carriage traffic to more than a million guests each year. Unsurprisingly, sections of the courtyard had become worn and were ready for a large-scale preservation project.

Continue reading to learn about what it takes to restore the courtyard’s appearance to Biltmore House architect Richard Morris Hunt’s original design intent.

Photograph of the Stable Complex construction from George Vanderbilt’s collection, ca. 1894
Photograph of the Stable Complex construction from George Vanderbilt’s collection, ca. 1894

A brief overview of the Stable Complex

Designed by Richard Morris Hunt, one of America’s most prominent architects during the late 19th century, the Stable Complex was an essential component of the comprehensive plan for Biltmore Estate.

This state-of-the-art complex includes many spaces, such as horse stables, a carriage house, living quarters for estate employees, livery storage, saddlery, and, of course, a wide, brick-paved courtyard.

Tip: Learn more about Biltmore’s construction story at our Building Biltmore House exhibition, on display daily inside the Halloween Room. Access is included with Biltmore House admission and Annual Passholder memberships.

An aerial view of Stable Courtyard before preservation work began in 2023 reveals inlaid patterns in the brick pavers.
Brent Merrell, Biltmore’s Director of Engineering Services and Preservation Committee member, provides an up-close look at the historic brick and mortar.
Historic bricks in good condition that are removed from Stable Courtyard will be preserved as part of Biltmore’s collection.
Over 10,000 brick replicas were created to match the color, size, texture, and sheen of the originals.
Custom mortar was also developed by experts in partnership with Biltmore’s preservation committee.
A side-by-side view of the historic bricks (left) and the newly restored replicas (right).

Stable Courtyard preservation by the numbers:

  • The Stable Complex is around 12,000 square feet, while the brick Courtyard is around 9,000 square feet.
  • During Mr. Vanderbilt’s era, there would have been as many as 25 riding and driving horses and 20 carriages inside the complex.
  • The process of recreating replicas of our historic brick took more than three years.
  • Preservation work is estimated to have taken a total of six and a half months to complete, with part of the work happening in 2023 and the remaining in early 2024.
  • 1,700 square feet of brick pavers were assessed, some of which were original bricks and others which had been replaced over the years.
  • 10,800 reproduction bricks and 2,016 gallons of mortar were ordered for this project. Both the bricks and the mortar were designed to age consistently with the original brick, and the differences now are calculated to produce the same appearance over time.
  • Biltmore Estate has held the National Historic Landmark designation since May 1963. As such, our preservation work follows the guidance set by the Secretary of Interior’s Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties.
The clock in Stable Courtyard has been restored to Gilded-Age-glory.
The clock in Stable Courtyard has been restored to Gilded-Age-glory.

Keeping time in the Courtyard

In addition to the resetting of brick pavers, the Stable Courtyard Clock has also been recently preserved! The face of the clock was treated by our in-house Conservation team, which included restoring the gilded wood hands.

Biltmore’s Associate Curator, Meghan Forest, says “Historically, this clock would have been connected to all of the clocks in the service areas of Biltmore House, ensuring that staff had a firm and consistent idea of what time it was.”

Want to learn even more about this preservation project at Biltmore? Watch this video with Brent Merrell.

Thank you for your help in preserving Biltmore

We welcome you to see our ongoing preservation efforts of this National Historic Landmark for yourself during your next Biltmore visit.

Top 5 Biltmore Family Favorites for Summer

Biltmore Estate in Asheville, NC, is a family-friendly destination all year long, but there’s something extra special about a summer getaway with the family on our 8,000-acre retreat!

Make the most of your summer vacation with our Top 5 Biltmore Family Favorite Activities for Summer that are sure to please your entire clan, from grandparents to grandchildren.

Winkie Bar Sundae in a waffle bowl
Try all the ice cream treats, including this delicious Winkie Bar Sundae served in a waffle bowl

5. Savor Our Favorite Flavors

Did you know that the vanilla ice cream served on the estate is based on a delicious original Biltmore Dairy recipe? With a visit to the Biltmore Dairy Bar® near Biltmore House and the Creamery in Antler Hill Village, you and your family can enjoy the same rich flavor enjoyed by estate guests more than a century ago!

Tip: Get sandwiches and ice cream to go from the Creamery in Antler Hill Village and have a picnic on the nearby Village Green. Celebrate summer with Biltmore wine for the grownups and Biltmore sparkling grape juice for the younger set.

Family biking at Biltmore
Bring the whole family along on your next biking adventure at Biltmore

4. Biking for All Ages

Ready to explore our wide-open spaces? Guests are welcome to bring their own bikes in tow or visit the Outdoor Adventure Center or Bike Barn in Antler Hill Village and choose from a selection of rentable mountain bikes for rugged trails or comfort cruisers for paved paths. Tandem rentals are also available so the younger members of the family can join the fun.

Tip: Consider a guided bike ride or other outdoor activities for more exciting ways to explore our 8,000 estate this summer!

Installation from Chihuly at Biltmore, March 25, 2024 – January 5, 2025 at Amherst. Dale Chihuly Persian Ceiling, 2012 25 x 15′ Biltmore, Asheville, North Carolina, installed 2024 © 2012 Chihuly Studio. All rights reserved. Photography by Nathaniel Willson.

3. An Artistic Escape

Ignite your family’s imaginations as you explore the castle-like halls of America’s Largest Home and the awe-inspiring art installations displayed inside Amherst during Chihuly at Biltmore. Chihuly’s mesmerizing work is sure to captivate young minds and inspire a love for creativity!

Tip: Chihuly at Biltmore is an awe-inspiring experience for families and guests of all ages. That said, due to the nature of the exhibition, all guests under the age of 16 must be accompanied by an adult.

Goat mother and
Meet our working farm animals at the Farmyard in Antler Hill Village!

2. Family Fun at the Farmyard

Bring YOUR kids to meet OUR kids at the Farmyard in Antler Hill Village! From learning about the working farm animals that are a part of our agricultural history at the Farmyard to handicrafts demonstrations and seasonal activities offered at The Barn nearby, your kiddos will have plenty to choose from for engaging and educational fun.

Our Farm to Table Tour & Taste experience (available exclusively to overnight guests and Passholders) offers even more in-depth discovery of Biltmore’s farming legacy and how that connects to our modern field-to-table philosophy.

Tip: Did you know that Biltmore Annual Passholders can bring their kids ages 16 and younger to enjoy Antler Hill Village for free year-round?

Family activities at Biltmore
Explore our glorious gardens and grounds all year long!

1. All-Time Family Favorite: Exploring Our 8,000-acre Backyard!

With 8,000 acres of Blue Ridge Mountain backyard, you’ll never run out of places to explore at Biltmore! Enjoy more than 20 miles of hiking trails along the French Broad River, through lush green forests, or in the open meadows of the estate.

Whether you’re up for a Vanderbilt-era-inspired game of croquet, rafting on the French Broad River, or venturing out on guided nature experiences (or all three!), our Outdoor Adventure Center in Antler Hill Village boasts an ever-changing variety of activities that are fun for the whole family.

Tip: Activities offered may sell out or have specific dates and times offered, so we strongly recommend checking our current offerings online and making reservations in advance to ensure availability during your visit. Visit the Bike Barn or Outdoor Adventure Center for a detailed trail map and orientation to the trails.

Aerial view of Biltmore's sprawling mountain landscape in Asheville, NC.

Discover Even More of Biltmore This Summer

In addition to our top 5 family-favorite activities, we invite you to explore all of our activities currently offered so you can make the most of your quick summer getaway, family vacation, or long holiday weekends to Biltmore!

Need more time to explore? Extend your Biltmore visit with an overnight stay at The Inn on Biltmore Estate, Village Hotel on Biltmore Estate, or our private historic Cottages on Biltmore Estate. Become a Biltmore Annual Passholder and enjoy year-round visits and exclusive member discounts on special events, dining, and more.

George Vanderbilt: An American Renaissance Man

Was George Vanderbilt an American Renaissance man?

“He certainly embodied many of the ideals of this period that flourished during his lifetime, and you can still see the influence of the era at Biltmore today,” said Meghan Forest, Associate Curator.

What was the American Renaissance?

Archival photo of George Vanderbilt and his three cousins in Spain
George Vanderbilt (standing, right) traveling in Spain with his cousin Clarence Barker (seated, left), his niece Maria Louisa Schieffelin (seated, right), and her husband William Jay Schieffelin (standing, left), 1891.

In the decades following the Civil War, the United States experienced an optimistic rebirth that mirrored the European Renaissance of the 17th century.

“The American Renaissance was all about developing a national identity of what it means to be American, and part of that was setting up the United States as the successor to the cultural accomplishments of countries across Europe,” Meghan said.

While the European Renaissance had stirred interest in exploration and experimentation in disciplines such as art, architecture, and science, the American Renaissance awakened a desire to explore classic themes and destinations, drawing inspiration from travels abroad to use at home.

America’s coming of age

The American Renaissance took place in the latter part of the 19th century, marking a renewed confidence in the nation’s outlook with time and attention lavished upon the development of ideas, urbanization, transportation, and new forms of communication.

“It was the American Renaissance that made the Gilded Age possible,” said Meghan. “Innovation in technology, propelled by the intellectual energy of the time, led to industrial growth that gave rise to prominent American families like the Vanderbilts.”

Once such families became wealthy, many contributed to pushing the arts farther than previous generations, so the American Renaissance ushered in the glamorous Gilded Age.

American Renaissance ideals

Photograph of Biltmore House and the Italian Garden, ca. 1910
Photograph of Biltmore House and the Italian Garden, ca. 1910

It was during the confluence of both periods that George Vanderbilt first visited Asheville, North Carolina, and became enamored with the area. He envisioned building his new home there, creating a retreat for friends and family that would also showcase his interest in art and literature and house the treasures he collected during his travels.

He retained the services of Richard Morris Hunt and landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted—two of the most influential designers of the American Renaissance era—to create Biltmore House and its magnificent gardens and grounds.

World’s Columbian Exposition

(L-R) purchasing agent and agricultural consultant Edward Burnett, architect Richard Morris Hunt, landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted, George Washington Vanderbilt, and architect Richard Howland Hunt, son of Richard Morris Hunt, 1892

In 1893, four years after construction began at Biltmore, Chicago hosted the World’s Columbian Exposition. With its remarkable “White City” thoughtfully planned by the nation’s leading designers including Hunt and Olmsted, the extraordinary event further elevated American Renaissance ideals such as world exploration, the experience of different cultures, and new technology like electricity.

With Hunt and Olmsted traveling between Asheville and Chicago during this pivotal time to oversee their roles in both massive projects, it was evident that the Columbian Exposition and Vanderbilt’s new estate shared a common thread: both were created in the regal and fashionable Beaux Arts style that favored neoclassical architecture and European-inspired formal gardens.

“In addition to Hunt and Olmsted’s presence there, we know that George Vanderbilt attended the Columbian Exposition, and that he contributed materials from Biltmore’s managed forestry initiative for estate forester Gifford Pinchot to display. The flags above the fireplace in the Biltmore House Banquet Hall represent the countries that participated in the Columbian Exposition,” Meghan said.

Meaningful travel

George Vanderbilt (seated, third from left) with unidentified gondola companions in Venice, circa 1890
George Vanderbilt (seated, third from left) with unidentified gondola companions in Venice, 1887.

Like many other wealthy Americans of the era, George Vanderbilt traveled extensively, and his trips to Europe, India, and Japan helped fuel his appreciation of history, architecture, and culture.

In particular, his sojourns to Rome, Venice, Milan, and Florence—the epicenter of the Italian Renaissance—gave George Vanderbilt a passion for all things Italian, leading him to choose Italy as a romantic backdrop for the first six weeks of his and Edith Vanderbilt’s four-month European honeymoon.

Renaissance art and patronage

Nocturne: Battersea, c. 1871-1873, James Abbott McNeill Whistler
Nocturne: Battersea, c. 1871-1873, James Abbott McNeill Whistler, on display in Oak Sitting Room. George Vanderbilt purchased this piece in 1900 from dealer Wunderlich and Company.

In order to succeed during the Italian Renaissance, many artists including Michelangelo, Da Vinci, and Botticelli sought and accepted the patronage of wealthy individuals and entities such as the church and the government in order to create works of lasting beauty.

During America’s Renaissance, George Vanderbilt was an active patron of the arts, commissioning and collecting pieces from the new Impressionists as well as many other established artists of his day.

Vanderbilt’s support extended beyond the stunning works he purchased; he also provided philanthropic support for certain libraries and art facilities in New York, educational and vocational support in Asheville, and corresponded with several notable artists including Claude Monet, John Singer Sargent, and James McNeill Whistler

Vanderbilt’s lasting legacy

Italian Renaissance wellhead used as a fountain at Biltmore House
Made of Rosso di Verona marble, this fountainhead was likely originally used to decorate and protect an active well in Venice during the Italian Renaissance, c. 1500. It has become known as the “Hunt fountain” as it is depicted in the John Singer Sargent portrait of Biltmore House architect Richard Morris Hunt.

The appreciation of man and his capabilities flourished during the American Renaissance, and the nation felt uniquely positioned to take a leading role in the global arena. George Vanderbilt personified the outlook of this important period in our nation’s history, and, as a true American Renaissance man, his contributions continue to stand the test of time.

Today, you can explore lingering expressions of the American Renaissance with a visit to Biltmore Estate in Asheville, NC. Highlights include America’s Largest Home®, still filled with many of the more than 50,000 objects in Biltmore’s collection, plus 75 acres of exquisitely landscaped and preserved formal gardens that gradually give way to meadows, fields, and managed forests surrounding the property.

Inspiration from Italy

The Birth of Venus by Botticelli
The Birth of Venus by Botticelli is just one of the iconic artworks you’ll experience on a grand scale during our Italian Renaissance Alive exhibition at Biltmore

During your next Biltmore visit, immerse yourself in the sights and sounds of Italian Renaissance Alive, the latest multi-sensory experience created and produced by Grande Experiences and hosted on the grounds of the estate.

In nearby Antler Hill Village, you’ll discover a charming accompaniment to Italian Renaissance Alive through Ciao! From Italy, a large-scale sculptural postcard display featuring quotes and details from the Vanderbilts’ Italian travels.

Plan your Biltmore visit now

Two farm-style cottages with cows in a pasture
Visit like a Vanderbilt when you choose one of our private, historic Cottages on Biltmore Estate.

Surround yourself with the architecture, travel, and art of the American Renaissance, and make your time with us even more unforgettable with an overnight retreat at one of our thoughtfully designed properties: Village Hotel on Biltmore Estate®, The Inn on Biltmore Estate®, or our historic private Cottages on Biltmore Estate™.

Live “La Dolce Vita” at Biltmore

Live la dolce vita–the sweet life–at Biltmore this summer, just as the Vanderbilts and their guests did more than a century ago.

Inspiration from Italy and Europe

Family taking a selfie in front of Biltmore House
Capture each memorable moment of the sweet life at Biltmore this summer!

“The idea of la dolce vita is Italian, and it translates to ‘the sweet life’,” said Lauren Henry, Curator of Interpretation. “It embodies the idea of living each moment as it unfolds, and enjoying it for itself. It’s an inspirational way of life that George Vanderbilt experienced during his travels in Italy and other delightful destinations, and it helped him envision Biltmore as a place where his family and friends could enjoy the same timeless feeling.”

The Conservatory at Biltmore surrounded by summer gardens
Biltmore’s historic grounds, including the Conservatory in the English-style Walled Garden, are the perfect place to experience the sweet life.

From the French Renaissance-style architecture of Biltmore House, designed by famed architect Richard Morris Hunt, to the glorious gardens and grounds created by legendary landscape designer Frederick Law Olmsted, Biltmore Estate brought classic European sensibilities to the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains of Western North Carolina.

“George Vanderbilt assembled a real ‘dream team’ to bring Biltmore to life,” Lauren said. “Together they created a distinctly European-style estate, but with an expansive feel and modern technologies that were hallmarks of the American Gilded Age.”

Discover la dolce vita at Biltmore

Painted ceiling of the Library at Biltmore
The Chariot of Aurora by Italian artist Giovanni Pelligrini graces the ceiling of the Library in Biltmore House

You can still capture the magic of la dolce vita as you explore Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina, touched at every turn by inspiration from the Vanderbilts’ journeys around the world.

Inside Biltmore House you’ll discover paintings, sculptures, and objets d’art to delight your mind and buoy your spirits in true la dolce vita fashion, including these highlights:

  • Salon—look for two original landscapes by French Impressionist artist Claude Monet. Both Strada Romana à Bordighera and Belle-Île, le chenal de Port-Goulphar have recently been restored to their late-19th-century vibrance.
  • Tapestry Gallery—Study the three Renaissance-era silk and wool tapestries that this 90-foot-long room was designed to display. Woven in Brussels circa 1530, the set was originally part of the The Triumph of the Seven Virtues.
  • Library—the ceiling was created to showcase Chariot of Aurora by Giovanni Pelligrini, an 18th-century painting comprised of thirteen separate canvases that depict the Roman goddess of the dawn.

Fresh air gives fresh perspectives

Couple in the Conservatory at Biltmore
The Conservatory at Biltmore is a a wonderful way to experience a tropical getaway while visiting the estate!

Explore miles of scenic trails across the estate by walking, hiking, or biking at your own preferred pace. Here are some of our favorite spots:

  • Conservatory—this elegant, glass-topped greenhouse captures the historic and modern balance of the estate as exotic botanicals popular in the Vanderbilt era overlap with plants we propagate for seasonal displays.
  • Bass Pond—walk down from the gardens to view the newly restored island that was part of Frederick Law Olmsted’s original landscape design.
  • Lagoon—spend some time at this scenic spot on the road to Antler Hill Village—it’s perfect for picnicking and for admiring the reflection of Biltmore House in the water.

Savor la dolce vita

Mother and daughter enjoying ice cream cones at Biltmore
The sweet life is even sweeter with ice cream treats from the Creamery in Antler Hill Village.

Whether you’ve worked up a bona fide appetite or simply need a refreshment respite, there are choices to please every palate when you dine at Biltmore:

Ice cream—indulge in a scoop (or two!) of fresh-churned ice cream and other sweet treats from The Biltmore Dairy Bar® adjacent to Biltmore House or the Creamery in Antler Hill Village.

Biltmore wine—Savor a complimentary tasting at Biltmore’s Winery to sip award-winning vintages, then pair your favorites–including Italian varietals like our Biltmore Estate® Pinot Grigio and Biltmore Estate® Limited Release Sangiovese–with charcuterie, cheeses, and chocolates next door at our relaxing Wine Bar. Choose outdoor seating to make la vita as dolce as possible!

Field-to-table freshness

Couple dining outdoors at Biltmore
Enjoy a wide range of fine and casual dining options while visiting Biltmore.

Enjoy fine and casual dining options featuring estate-raised and locally sourced dishes. Favorites include our European-style Bistro at the Winery, English pub far at Cedric’s® Tavern in Antler Hill Village, and four-star, white-linen luxury at The Dining Room at The Inn on Biltmore Estate.

Encounter Europe like never before

Several guests immersed in the Italian Renaissance Alive exhibition at Biltmore
Immerse yourself in the grand multi-sensory experience of Italian Renaissance Alive at Biltmore!

You won’t need a passport to undertake a European odyssey when you visit our newest exhibition as we host Italian Renaissance Alive, created and produced by Grande Experiences, now through January 7, 2024, on the grounds of the estate.

With the purchase of an exhibition ticket, you’ll be surrounded on all sides by the sights and sounds of some of the most remarkable masterpieces of the Italian Renaissance, including Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa, Michelangelo’s The Creation of Adam, Botticelli’s The Birth of Venus, and more. There’s even a signature scent to enhance your experience.

Postcard exhibition at Biltmore
Ciao! From Italy features large-scale sculptural postcards based on the Vanderbilts’ travels in Italy.

Continue your old-world travels with our Ciao! From Italy Sculptural Postcards display in Antler Hill Village. Created by the artists from Applied Imagination using botanical materials such as bark, pine cones, pods, and leaves, each oversized 4’x6’ image highlights the Vanderbilts’ visits to Italy, complete with quotes from George Vanderbilt himself.

This charming complement to Italian Renaissance Alive is including with estate admission now through February 19, 2024.

Discover la dolce vita at Biltmore for yourself!

Woman in a bathrobe admiring the view at The Inn on Biltmore Estate
Embrace la dolce vita at The Inn on Biltmore Estate or one of our other properties.

Come to Biltmore this summer to create your own memories of living la dolce vita, and make your visit even sweeter with an overnight stay at The Inn on Biltmore Estate®️, Village Hotel on Biltmore Estate®️, or one of our private historic Cottages on Biltmore Estate.

Featured blog image: A Biltmore guest enjoys la dolce vita with a flute of sparkling wine on the terrace of The Inn on Biltmore Estate. Photo courtesy of @georgia_sheffield.

Afternoon Tea at Biltmore Is a Treasured Tradition

Afternoon tea at Biltmore is a treasured tradition inspired by the Vanderbilt family.

Archival photo of a group of men and women, plus two large dogs, having afternoon tea at Biltmore House
Afternoon tea on the Loggia, May 1903. L-R: Edith Vanderbilt with unidentified dog, Mademoiselle Rambaud (Edith Vanderbilt’s former chaperone), Lila Vanderbilt Webb (George’s sister), Mary Webb (Lila’s sister-in-law), Isabella Stewart Gardner, William Blodgett II, and George Vanderbilt with a St. Bernard.

Afternoon tea at Biltmore

Although “taking tea” often seems like a formal affair, archival records show that afternoon tea at America’s Largest Home® wasn’t always regimented. “We have photos that show the Vanderbilts and their guests having tea while lounging outside with their dogs,” said Lauren Henry, Curator of Interpretation.

Another photo shows George Vanderbilt pouring tea for Edith at Buck Springs Lodge in a very rustic setting. “What this photo tells me is that tea was very much a part of their culture, an integral part of daily activities. They probably served it on camping trips!” Lauren said.

The perfect place for afternoon tea

Archival photo of a young boy and girl having a tea party
Cousins John Nicholas Brown and Cornelia Vanderbilt at a tea party in 1906

Children were often included at tea with the Vanderbilts. “There is a letter from Edith Vanderbilt’s sister Pauline describing her day at Biltmore and talking about the children coming down for tea,” said Lauren. “It was unusual in those days for kids to be present at tea with the adults, but Pauline noted it was a good time to reconnect.”

The Vanderbilts frequently served tea in the Tapestry Gallery. “I like to imagine that in the winter they pulled up chairs to the fireplace,” Lauren said. “And in warmer weather they sometimes enjoyed afternoon tea on the Loggia to take advantage of the cool breezes and breathtaking views all the way to Mt. Pisgah.”

Served in style

Here’s a selection of the stylish tea sets that the Vanderbilts and their guests enjoyed at Biltmore:

Cup, saucer, and teapot featuring George Vanderbilt's monogram
George Vanderbilt’s elegant white china with burgundy and gold trim. It was manufactured by Minton and Spode-Copeland, and used for everyday occasions.
Blue and gold tea set with a monogrammed linen cloth.
This blue-and-gold porcelain tea set displayed in the Tapestry Gallery of Biltmore House was made in France around 1888; the lovely floral detailing shown here on the cup is a hallmark of Rococo revival style. The piece of fringed linen with red-and-gold cross stitch is also from the Biltmore collection.
Silver Tiffany & Co. tea set
This silver Tiffany & Company tea set was a gift to George Vanderbilt from his mother and it is engraved with his and her initials. She gave him with the set—a gracious symbol of hospitality—to serve guests aboard Swannanoa, his private train car.

Reserve afternoon tea at Biltmore today!

A plate of sweet treats for afternoon tea at Biltmore
A selection of sweet treats that you’ll enjoy as part of your Afternoon Tea at The Inn on Biltmore Estate®

For more inspiration on the tradition of taking tea, reserve Afternoon Tea at the The Inn on Biltmore Estate®. It’s the perfect opportunity to relax with friends and feel just as if you were a special guest of the Vanderbilts.

Your afternoon tea is served in The Dining Room of The Inn and features delights such as fresh-baked scones with clotted cream, honey, and preserves, artfully prepared sweet and savory canapés, and finely cut tea sandwiches. You can even indulge in a carefully crafted tea-infused cocktail or other spirited offerings.

Every Day is Earth Day: Sustainability at Biltmore

Sustainability is at the heart of what we do here at Biltmore Estate in Asheville, NC. Earth Day is celebrated on April 22, but we treat every day as Earth Day.

“Biltmore prides itself on its commitment to environmental stewardship, and as a company, we are always searching for ways to make our business practices more sustainable,” says Kimber Jones, our Agriculture & Natural Resources Coordinator. One of Kimber’s primary responsibilities is leading our environmental programs.

“Earth Day is a great opportunity to recognize the work we already have done, as well as our continued dedication to being good stewards of this planet and the natural resources on the estate.”

Kimber Jones, head of Biltmore’s sustainability efforts, is pictured here at the estate’s apiary—one of our many environmental programs.
Kimber Jones, head of Biltmore’s sustainability efforts, is pictured here at the estate’s apiary—one of our many environmental programs.

Honoring George Vanderbilt’s Vision of Sustainability

When George Vanderbilt began planning his grand estate, his vision was twofold. First, he wanted to create a place where he could relax and entertain friends and family.

Second, he envisioned a self-sustaining estate that would nurture the land and its resources for years to come. From this vision came the nation’s first scientific forestry program and the beginning of a family focus on the environment.

We continue to honor his vision today by acting as good stewards of our land, forest, and livestock resources. Here are some highlights of our sustainability efforts here at Biltmore:

Kimber Jones and Eli Winkenwerder take us behind the scenes to look at Biltmore’s state-of-the-art composting facility that began operating in early 2023.

Estate Composting

In the early years of Biltmore Estate, Frederick Law Olmsted recommended that George W. Vanderbilt use manure to fertilize and restore the depleted farmland he had purchased in Asheville, North Carolina. Over a century later, our teams at Biltmore operate a state-of-the-art composting facility that serves a vital role in converting waste into valuable, usable products to be used elsewhere on our 8,000-acre estate.

One of our most steadfast sustainability programs is our hydroponic greenhouses, which provide greens for all of our full-service restaurants.
One of our most steadfast sustainability programs is our hydroponic greenhouses, which provide greens for all of our full-service restaurants.

Cultivating Hydroponic Greens

To honor our legacy of agricultural excellence, the benefits of hydroponics are undeniable. In addition to higher and more consistent yields, the system is more efficient in protecting plants from pests and uses less water than standard field irrigation. We currently grow almost a dozen varieties of lettuce and other leafy greens in the estate hydroponic greenhouse.

Goats on the estate work hard and play hard, spending time in kidding around in the Farmyard as well as working to clear various estate areas of invasive species.
Goats on the estate work hard and play hard, spending time in kidding around in the Farmyard as well as working to clear various estate areas of invasive species.

Working Goats

Land is one of Biltmore’s most valuable resources, and to help preserve it more sustainably, larger pastures for livestock are divided into smaller paddocks with animals rotated through them every few days.

The practice of rotational grazing is a prime example of sustainability, allowing plants more time to regrow and replenish their root systems, increasing the quality and quantity of on-site foraging, reducing the need for labor-intensive harvesting, and increasing soil health for better agricultural outcomes.

Additionally, our goats eat invasive plant species such as autumn olive and porcelain berry. They are especially useful in keeping steep slopes trimmed and tidy, allowing maintenance crews to take on other projects and reducing some diesel fuel usage in equipment.

Biltmore is a certified Monarch Waystation, meaning the estate provides resources necessary for monarchs to produce successive generations and sustain their migration.
Biltmore is a certified Monarch Waystation, meaning the estate provides resources necessary for monarchs to produce successive generations and sustain their migration.

Protecting Pollinators

We have also embarked on an effort to support the monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus) by planting native milkweed (Asclepias syriaca) to provide vital habitat for this threatened species. Milkweed is the only plant on which monarchs lay their eggs—and it is the only plant that their young caterpillars eat before transforming into beautiful orange and black butterflies.

In becoming a certified Monarch Waystation, our hope is that as the monarchs’ path of migration takes them through Asheville and the mountains of Western North Carolina on their way to Mexico, we can encourage growth in their waning populations.

Sustainability can mean beauty! Wildflowers on the estate helps to encourage a robust ecosystem on the estate—and provides gorgeous color for our guests.
Cultivating wildflowers on the estate helps to encourage a robust ecosystem on the estate—and provides additional beauty for our guests.

Welcoming Wildflowers

Beyond milkweed, we plant other pollinator-friendly wildflowers to help play our part in preventing the widespread demise of a variety of important species—including hummingbirds, bees, moths, and more.

We cultivate more than 30 varieties of wildflowers across 2.5 acres in order to attract and support these small, but vital native animals. This program encourages a more diverse, and thus resilient, ecosystem both on the estate and in the surrounding region.

Our solar panels occupy just 9 acres on the estate, but are able to support up to 20% of the estate’s energy needs.
Our solar panels occupy just 9 acres on the estate, but are able to support up to 20% of the estate’s energy needs.

Harnessing Solar Energy

Along with the sustainability initiatives noted above, Biltmore has implemented a 9-acre, 1.7-megawatt solar system with 7,000 solar panels and uses advanced technology to perform, even on cloudy days.

These panels provide up to 20% of the estate’s energy needs. Sheep and chickens occasionally graze in the solar fields, keeping the land agricultural.  

Our cork recycling efforts are just one of the many estate initiatives led by employees on our Corporate Social Responsibility Team.
Our cork recycling efforts are just one of the many estate initiatives led by employees on our Corporate Social Responsibility Team.

Practicing Sustainability through Corporate Social Responsibility

In addition to these sustainability practices, Biltmore encourages employees to become members of the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Team that focuses on reducing, reusing, and recycling for the estate.

From the efforts mentioned here to so many more, we invite you to learn more about our ever-growing program of sustainable estate practices as we work to be great stewards of the land—just as George Vanderbilt intended.

Spring Squash Carbonara Recipe

Savor this spring-inspired pasta dish from our estate chefs featuring quail eggs! Quail eggs elevate any dish and pair especially well with bacon, black truffles, asparagus, caviar, and mushrooms.

Wine Pairing Suggestion: Our Limited Release Pinot Grigio pairs well with the Carbonara. Winemaker Sharon Fenchak says its crispness and citrus notes complement the richness of the quail eggs in this dish.

Savor spring with this delightful Squash Carbonara recipe from Biltmore
Savor spring with this delightful Squash Carbonara recipe from Biltmore

Spring Squash Carbonara

Total time: 1.5 hours Serving Size: 6 people

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound dried spaghetti
  • 1 pound smoked bacon, diced
  • ½ yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 pound zucchini, chopped
  • ¼ cup plus 3 tablespoons fresh chives, minced
  • 1½ cups grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 10 squash blossoms, halved lengthwise (optional)
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 6 quail eggs
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions:

  • Put bacon in a medium saucepan and place over low heat. Slowly cook until the bacon begins to brown. Drain most of the fat, leaving a few tablespoons in the pot. Add the onions and garlic and cook until translucent. Add the zucchini and cook until tender. Remove from heat.
  • Bring a large pot of salted water to boil for the pasta. When the water begins to boil, add the spaghetti and stir. Cook the pasta for 6–8 minutes until tender. Remove from heat and drain, reserving 1 cup of pasta water.
  • Place the zucchini mixture back over medium heat. Add the pasta, 1 cup of pasta water, and egg yolks to the zucchini mixture and stir continuously. When a creamy sauce begins to form, add the Parmesan cheese, 2 tablespoons butter, squash blossoms, lemon zest and ¼ cup chopped chives. Mix well and season to taste with salt and pepper.
  • Divide the pasta evenly into 6 bowls and top each with a sunny side up quail egg, the reserved chives, and more Parmesan cheese. Serves 6.

Biltmore Estate® Cardinal’s Crest® Wine Takes Flight!

Biltmore Estate® Cardinal’s Crest wine takes flight with a breathtaking new label that will help you see this long-time guest favorite in a whole new light.

Cardinal’s Crest tasting notes

Glasses and a bottle of Biltmore Estate® Cardinal's Crest red wine
Biltmore Estate® Cardinal’s Crest Winemaker’s Blend is an easy-drinking red wine that pairs well with a wide variety of your favorite flavors.

Blackberry notes and smooth tannins make Cardinal’s Crest a soft, easy-drinking wine perfect for solo sipping and good-time gatherings.

Historic inspiration

“For many years, Cardinal’s Crest has enjoyed a loyal following with those who appreciate how approachable it is,” said Meghan Forest, Associate Curator. “What you may not realize, however, is that this wine’s story is rooted in one of George Vanderbilt’s most interesting possessions: a pair of 17th-century hangings embroidered with gold and silver threads.”

Print of Cardinal Richelieu
This likeness of Cardinal Richelieu, engraved by Robert Nanteuil, is one of many prints that George Vanderbilt collected and displayed in Biltmore House.

According to Meghan, the original hangings once belonged to Cardinal Richelieu (1585-1642), a French clergyman, nobleman, and statesman who served as Chief Minister for King Louis XIII.

“These ornate textiles are a fascinating part of Biltmore’s extensive collection, and they definitely illustrate George Vanderbilt’s deep interests in history, politics, religion, and the arts,” said Meghan.

One of two ornate embroidered 17th-century Cardinal Richelieu hangings that George Vanderbilt collected. Both original textiles are now in storage due to their age and fragility.
Detail of the 17th-century Cardinal Richelieu hangings in the Biltmore collection. The star symbol is a reference to the Order of the Holy Spirit, an order of chivalry awarded to leading French nobles to recognize their loyalty to the Crown. (You’ll see the same symbol in the engraved print of Richelieu by Robert Nanteuil previously referenced in the blog.)
An unidentified guest in Biltmore House standing in front of the Cardinal Richelieu hangings, ca. 1898.
The Richelieu family coat of arms includes a central silver ground with three crimson chevrons like you see in the hangings. The motto ‘Semper Idem’ translates to ‘Always the Same’ in Latin, which is also a good motto for a delicious wine like Cardinal’s Crest that is consistent from vintage to vintage!

“The hangings are the most beautiful dark red silk velvet with embroidery and threadwork in real gold and silver. They hung in Biltmore House in the past, and though we wish we could still display these exceptional pieces for our guests, textiles tend to become very fragile as they age, so we have now placed them in storage to conserve them and prevent further deterioration,” Meghan said.

Modern inspiration

“The name Cardinal’s Crest was selected to honor these extraordinary hangings in Biltmore’s collection, and to echo the rich, velvety red depths of the wine itself–it was a perfect pairing of past and present!” said Meghan.

It is difficult, however, to tell such a complex story on the back label of a wine bottle, and over time, Cardinal’s Crest became associated with a different type of cardinal: North Carolina’s state bird.

“It makes sense because male cardinals are a vivid red with a distinctive crest of feathers on their head, and because Biltmore is so deeply rooted in North Carolina history,” Meghan said.

Creating the new Cardinal’s Crest label

Biltmore Estate® Cardinal's Crest red wine bottle and glasses

In 2022, Biltmore’s wine team decided it was time to share the story of Cardinal’s Crest more broadly, so they turned to Lisa Vogel, Art Director, for a new label that would illustrate the appeal of this easy-drinking red blend.

“For years, Cardinal’s Crest has flown under the radar of many wine enthusiasts, but Biltmore’s winemakers have always handcrafted it with the same high-quality grapes that you’d expect from any of our Biltmore Estate® Limited Release wines,” said Lisa.

Flight of fancy

Wine label for Cardinal's Crest Winemaker's Blend
The new Cardinal’s Crest label features production techniques such as gold foil and holographic foil stamps that create iridescence and a sense of movement. If you look closely at the cardinal, you’ll see that it’s composed of elements from the original hangings, while the gold lines in the background reference the golden embroidery threads.

Lisa took inspiration from the historic Richelieu hangings and the modern take on North Carolina’s state bird, weaving both halves of the story together in a stunning label that immediately makes you want to know more about the wine in the bottle.

“I took some of the most compelling details from the original hangings and created a dynamic cardinal in flight,” Lisa said. “It was a bit of ‘upcycling,’ if you will–using existing elements from a piece in Biltmore’s collection to create a fresh look for a new generation of wine enthusiasts.”

Using a variety of production techniques to further enhance the finished design, Lisa including a gold hot foil stamp printed on the label to mimic the original gold threads.

“There is also an iridescence to the labels when you see them in person; this is due to the holographic foil stamp used in addition to the gold foil stamp. Along with a textural emboss and spot varnish, all of the production finishes together create a label that is as luxe as the original textile!” said Lisa.

Even though the original hangings must remain in storage, Lisa hopes her design for the Cardinal’s Crest label will give you a glimpse of their ornate beauty.

Savor Cardinal’s Crest now

Biltmore Estate Cardinal's Crest wine with a pitcher of sangria
Biltmore Estate® Cardinal’s Crest wine is perfect for sipping, savoring, and sangria!

This delightful red wine—inspired by a flight of fancy with the Cardinal Richelieu hangings in Biltmore’s collection—pairs our winemaker’s passion for her craft with the estate’s cardinal mission of preservation.

That’s why it’s designated a Winemaker’s Blend, to reflect Sharon Fenchak’s careful attention to sourcing and selecting outstanding fruit to handcraft our velvety smooth Cardinal’s Crest.

Purchase Biltmore Estate Cardinal’s Crest in estate shops or online, and for refreshing summer sipping, try our easy recipe for Cardinal’s Crest Red Sangria!

Explore Biltmore Estate Limited Release Wines

Explore our Biltmore Estate® Limited Release wines and learn how winemaker Sharon Fenchak carefully handcrafts each varietal or blend in the series here at Biltmore’s Winery in Asheville, North Carolina.

Biltmore winemaker Sharon Fenchak in the Barrel Room at the Winery
Biltmore winemaker Sharon Fenchak in the Barrel Room at the Winery

“When I’m sourcing grapes for our American series wines from one of our California or Washington vineyard partners, I’m also looking for outstanding vintages that inspire me to create distinctive wines for our Limited Release series,” Sharon said.

She noted that the Limited Release wines are usually based on smaller amounts of fruit, and that gives her and her production team an opportunity to bring out different qualities of a varietal or to create intriguing blends.

Biltmore Estate® Limited Release Malbec

Bottle of Biltmore Estate Limited Release Malbec and two glasses
Our award-winning Biltmore Estate Limited Release Malbec is perfect for sipping by the glass or pairing with your favorite hearty fare.

“One of our most popular offerings is our full-bodied, oak-aged Biltmore Estate Limited Release Malbec,” said Sharon. “It opens with scents of cocoa, cedar, molasses, and berries ahead of black raspberry, anise, and rich pecan flavors.”

As a varietal, Malbec originated in France and rose to its current popularity in Argentina and California. Ours is rich, fruit-forward, and a bit spicy with smooth, lingering tannins that pair perfectly with grilled meat, kebabs, and andouille sausage.

It’s also a surprisingly good partner for smoked cheeses and vegetarian fare like mushroom ragout, Portobello burgers, and tempeh dishes. As delicious as it is now, it offers good aging potential—if you can stand to wait!

Biltmore Estate® Limited Release Tempranillo

Pouring red wine into a glass
Try any of our Biltmore Estate Limited Release wines, including our spicy Tempranillo.

Most of the world’s Tempranillo is grown in Spain where it is believed to have originated, but this earthy red wine is rapidly gaining a following around the globe.

“Tempranillo has a lot of personality,” said Sharon. “Ours is full-bodied and fruit-forward with earthy aromas, rich dried fig flavors, and lingering tannins—just what you’d expect in a classic barrel-aged version of this varietal.”

Biltmore Estate® Limited Release Tempranillo is a hearty red wine that’s a great match for beef, lamb curry, and pork.

Explore other Biltmore Estate® Limited Release wines

Biltmore Estate Limited Release Orange Muscat wine paired with Lemon-Cranberry Shortbread cookies
Biltmore Estate® Limited Release Orange Muscat is a favorite for many guests, and it pairs perfectly with our Lemon-Cranberry Shortbread Cookies!

In addition to these two varietals, there are a number of other wines in our Limited Release series:

Enjoy Biltmore Estate® Limited Release wines now

Discover all Biltmore white wines at Biltmore's Wine Bar
You’ll find all our Limited Release wines at the Wine Bar adjacent to Biltmore’s Winery.

Savor Biltmore Estate® Limited Release varietals and blends–or any of our fine wines–by the bottle or glass at the Wine Bar adjacent to the Winery, or purchase them in estate shops or online.

Painting Conservation For A Landmark Destination

A painting conservation project for two original landscapes by Impressionist artist Claude Monet is just one of many preservation-related efforts that help make Biltmore Estate in Asheville, NC, such a landmark destination.

Creating an impression

Claude Monet's signature on an original oil painting
Along with his signature, Claude Monet’s paintings show the characteristic style of his brush strokes.

“From 1860–1905, a dynamic group of Paris-based artists led by Claude Monet challenged the norm and began painting in a much less formal manner than the Old Masters who came before them,” said Meghan Forest, Associate Curator.

Monet’s work followed the textures of his subjects; the length of his brush strokes mimicked flowers and foliage, rippling water, and boats and structures. It was his 1872 painting Impression, Sunrise that sparked the term “Impressionists” from an art critic who felt this new style had an unfinished look.

The trailblazing group of artists took the name as their own, arousing even more interest and curiosity about the new way of creating and viewing art.

George Vanderbilt collected Impressionist art

Two paintings of children by Renoir
(L-R) “Young Algerian Girl” and “Child with an Orange” by Pierre-Auguste Renoir. Both are on display in the Breakfast Room of Biltmore House.

True to his visionary approach, George Vanderbilt was an early adopter of the new Impressionist movement. His affinity for the style ultimately resulted in a collection of 16 Impressionist paintings by Monet, Renoir, Maufra, Manet, and Whistler.

Strada Romana a Bordighera
“Strada Romana a Bordighera,” an Italian landscape by Claude Monet, is installed in the Salon at Biltmore House.

“Mr. Vanderbilt purchased three paintings by Claude Monet, and two of them remain in the Biltmore collection,” said Meghan. “One is a landscape entitled Strada Romana à Bordighera. Monet captured this colorful Italian scene in 1884 and Vanderbilt purchased it from Durand-Ruel, a noted dealer of Impressionist art, in 1892.”

Belle-Île, le chenal de Port-Goulphar seascape painting by Claude Monet
“Belle-Île, le chenal de Port-Goulphar” by Claude Monet is part of the Biltmore collection and is now displayed in the Salon of Biltmore House.

In addition, Vanderbilt acquired a Monet seascape entitled Belle-Île, le chenal de Port-Goulphar, painted in 1886.

“When we examined the paintings for display in Biltmore House, we found that they were structurally stable, but there was a layer of varnish that was added in the early 1980s that had grayed and dulled over time and there were a few areas where paint had begun to flake off,” Meghan said.

The process of painting conservation

Meghan Forest, Associate Curator with Biltmore’s Museum Services team, gives an overview of George Vanderbilt as a collector and shows highlights of the painting conservation process for the two Monets in the collection.

Biltmore worked with painting conservator Ruth Cox who has treated a number of works in our private collection.

Based in Durham, North Carolina, Ruth offers a wide range of professional services for the conservation of easel paintings in museum and private collections.

“Ruth worked in stages to carefully remove the synthetic varnish and add paint to the areas where there was paint loss so that the paintings could look as close as possible to how they would’ve looked when Monet completed them in the late 1800s,” said Meghan.

In addition, the materials Ruth used for painting conservation are readily distinguishable by scholars and reversible so that future conversation can be accomplished more easily.

“The total conservation process for each painting took about 4-6 months, so it was nearly a year before both were ready for display,” Meghan noted.

See the results for yourself

Two men handle a landscape painting by Claude Monet
Trip Hudgins and Greg Schmidt carefully lift Monet’s “Strada Romana a Bordighera” painting in its ornate frame.

Plan a visit to Biltmore so you can see the results of this painting conservation work for yourself. Both paintings are displayed in the Salon on the First Floor of Biltmore House. Take time to see Monet’s process up close, including his brushwork, atmospheric effects, and study of light.

Featured blog image: (L-R) Trip Hudgins, Engineering Operation Manager; Lori Garst, Curator; Nancy Rosebrock, Director of Conservation and Collections; and Greg Schmidt, Engineering Services, examine Belle-Île, le chenal de Port-Goulphar by Monet before hanging it in the Salon at Biltmore House.