Biltmore Winery Welcomes Chihuly Chandelier

Biltmore Winery welcomes you to marvel at Iris Gold and Garnet Chandelier created by world-renowned artist Dale Chihuly.

Learn more about the inspiration, creation, and location of this beautiful Chandelier by artist Dale Chihuly!

Inspiration for the Chihuly Chandelier

“We are thrilled to share the acquisition of the Iris Gold and Garnet Chandelier by Dale Chihuly,” said Bill Cecil, President and CEO of Biltmore and great-grandson of George Vanderbilt.

Portrait of George Vanderbilt and three bottles of wine
George Vanderbilt (left; portrait by John Singer Sargent) was a thoughtful collector of wines whose legacy continues to inspire our handcrafted Biltmore wines today.

“We know that George Vanderbilt was a thoughtful collector of art and wine who enjoyed bringing beautiful objects to fill his home and sharing excellent vintages at his table,” Bill said, “so our family commissioned this piece to represent the importance of wine in our history, from the Vanderbilt era to our modern-day winemaking philosophy.”

The stunning chandelier draws inspiration from the vibrant hues found in Biltmore’s red, white, and rosé wines.

Creating the intricate composition

Travis Tatham (center), Biltmore’s Director of Destination Entertainment and Events, looks at the plans for the new Iris Gold and Garnet Chandelier with members of Team Chihuly.
Travis Tatham explores color options for the new Iris Gold and Garnet Chandelier
Travis Tatham participates in glassblowing with Team Chihuly in The Hotshop in Seattle, WA.

Chihuly’s Chandeliers are composed of hundreds of blown glass elements that together make up elaborate, intricate compositions. Chihuly began the Chandelier series in 1992 and has since created them for locations all around the world.

Detail of Chihuly Chandelier at Biltmore
Dale Chihuly, Iris Gold and Garnet Chandelier, 2022, 8x6x6′, ©2023 Chihuly Studio. All rights reserved.

“What makes the Chandeliers work for me is the massing of color. If you take hundreds of blown pieces of one color, put them together, and then shine light through them, now that’s going to be something to look at. Hang it in a space and it becomes mysterious, defying gravity or seemingly out of place, like something you have never seen before.” — Dale Chihuly

A welcome addition to Biltmore’s collection

Stained glass La Farge windows
George Vanderbilt’s father commissioned artist and interior designer John La Farge to create several stained glass panels that represent “The Fruits of Prosperity”.

“While we have decorative glass objects in Biltmore’s private collection, such as a Tiffany vase and the La Farge stained glass windows, this commissioned Chihuly Chandelier is the first fine-art glass sculpture to be added to Biltmore’s private collection,” said Ellen Rickman, Director of Museum Services.

Tiffany vase
Part of the Biltmore collection, this handblown vase by famed art glass maker Louis Comfort Tiffany features different layers of glass in different colors, with a gold metallic surface and woven sterling silver overlay.

Dale Chihuly is recognized for having a significant impact on the art world, just as artists like Paul Auguste Renoir and Claude Monet did in their time. We are honored to welcome this work of art into our collection alongside important works by other great artists.

Savor and share Biltmore Winery’s new Chihuly Chandelier

Couple on a romantic date entering the Winery at Biltmore
Biltmore’s Winery offers wonderful ways to savor and share all year round, including the new Chandelier by Chihuly.

All Biltmore guests with estate admission, Annual Pass membership, or an overnight stay are welcome to view the Chihuly Chandelier inside the Wine Shop of our estate Winery in Antler Hill Village. For current hours of operation, visit biltmore.com/hours.

For those who enjoy sharing their memories on social media, we invite you to use our official tags:

  • Handles: @biltmoreestate @biltmorewines @chihulystudio
  • Location tag: Biltmore, 1 Lodge Street
  • Hashtag: #ChihulyatBiltmore #Chihuly #Biltmore

Featured image: Dale Chihuly, Iris Gold and Garnet Chandelier, 2022, 8x6x6′, ©2023 Chihuly Studio. All rights reserved.

Take A Tropical Escape In Our Conservatory

With towering palms and exotic blooms, Biltmore invites you to take a tropical escape in our Conservatory during any season–but it’s never more welcome than in the winter months.

Ornate bench surrounded by flowering plants in Biltmore's Conservatory
Picture yourself here! The Conservatory offers beautiful backdrops for your selfies and photos.

“While we welcome the return of warmer weather with our annual Biltmore Blooms celebration each spring, the Conservatory offers a year-round indoor tropical oasis that will make you forget the outside temperatures for a while,” said Todd Roy, Conservatory Horticulturalist.

Archival Conservatory photo
Photograph of the Conservatory from George Vanderbilt’s collection, ca. 1910

A passion for horticulture

Completed in 1895, the Conservatory embodies the late 19th-century passion for horticulture. It was a collaboration between George Vanderbilt, Frederick Law Olmsted, the estate’s landscape architect, and Richard Morris Hunt, who designed Biltmore House. Hunt designed the structure while Olmsted weighed in on the location.

Trap door in the floor of the Winter Garden
This hidden door in the floor of the Winter Garden in Biltmore House allowed plants to be brought back and forth from the Conservatory without disturbing guests.

Like other conservatories in the early 1900s, Biltmore’s glass-enclosed building sheltered exotic and tropical plants from around the world, but it was much more than a pretty place to showcase rare plants; it also fulfilled Vanderbilt’s vision of Biltmore as a self-sufficient, working estate.

Rows of plants growing in pots
Some of the poinsettias used for holiday decor at Biltmore are grown in the Production Room of the Conservatory.

“Beyond the main areas that Mr. Vanderbilt’s guests would have enjoyed, there is a large Production Room for potting and growing plants and storing tools and equipment,” Todd said. “We still use those areas today.”

Man working on a scaffold on the exterior of Biltmore's Conservatory
In 2017, the Conservatory underwent repairs and cleaning. In 2022, all the large wooden exterior doors were replaced.

Restoring the Conservatory

For a building made primarily of glass, it’s remarkable that the Conservatory’s design and construction stood the test of time for more than a century. In 1997, the structure received an extensive two-year renovation.

“Biltmore focused on much-needed repairs while restoring most of the floor plan to the original 1893 design,” said Todd. “I believe George Vanderbilt, who was fascinated with technology and innovations, would have been excited by everything that was done to preserve this historic building.”

Purple cattaleya orchids in bloom
Purple cattaleya orchids in bloom in Orchid Room in Conservatory

Orchids on display

One of the highlights of the Conservatory is the Orchid Room which features more than 500 plants in the collection. Peak bloom time is during the winter months, bringing some much-needed warmth and color to the coldest season of the year, though the room is filled with blooms year-round.

“Our collection highlights five major groups of orchids,” said Todd. “A large portion is orchids people generally know, like corsage orchids which come in every color imaginable. We also have lady slipper orchids, yellow-flowered dancing lady orchids, and many others.”

“They are diverse in every respect, from the shape of their flowers to the way they trick pollinators like bees or hummingbirds because there is rarely any nectar or pollen in the blooms,” said Todd. “Orchids are truly fascinating.”

Boy looks at a large cactus
From lush orchids to spiny specimens in the Cactus Room, Biltmore’s Conservatory is filled with fascinating discoveries!

Plan your Biltmore Conservatory visit today!

Whether you’re a first-time guest who wants to experience as much as possible, or an Annual Passholder who enjoys unlimited free visits for an entire year, the Conservatory, located at the bottom of the Walled Garden, is just one of the wonderful features you’ll discover at Biltmore Estate in Asheville, NC!



Plan A Romantic Getaway to Biltmore

When you’re longing for time away with your beloved, Biltmore serves up the ultimate romantic escape whether you’re seeking a private retreat for renewed connections or fun-filled adventures in the great outdoors.

Follow our expert tips and inspiration for planning your next romantic getaway to Biltmore Estate in Asheville, NC.

Nothing is more romantic than a private carriage ride with views of Biltmore House along the way.
Enjoy the great outdoors together on your next romantic date or getaway at Biltmore!
Choose wellness activities such as yoga and meditation to help reconnect with each other during your romantic getaway at Biltmore.
Enjoy outdoor activities such as bike riding together at Biltmore.

Explore the estate together

Create new memories by enjoying the outdoors together while exploring the grounds of George Vanderbilt’s 8,000-acre Blue Ridge Mountain estate.

“I can’t think of anything much more romantic than a private carriage ride for two,” said Heather Brannan, Outdoor Adventure Center Supervisor, “but Biltmore offers so many activities that you’re sure to find something that delights both of you.”

  • Carriage and trail rides
    • Enjoy Biltmore’s property from a different perspective with a carriage or trail ride. Choose guided or private options to suit your style and abilities.
  • Biking and hiking
    • Delight in Frederick Law Olmsted’s distinctive landscape design as you explore the trails at Biltmore. Walk, hike, rent a bike, or pedal your own to get a firsthand view of the estate.
  • Wellness activities
    • Indulge in some self-care as a couple with thoughtful options that quiet your mind and refresh your spirits, such as Morning Yoga or our deliciously relaxing Chocolate Meditation.
Don’t miss this one-of-a-kind opportunity to interact with one of these majestic birds of prey.
In addition to learning a new skill, your Land Rover® Experience at Biltmore will take you to areas of the estate many guests never see.

Adventure awaits

Team up with your significant other for an adventure that may take you out of your comfort zone, but will also bring you closer together as you learn new skills with the help of our expert guides.

  • Land Rover® Experience at Biltmore
    • Go off-roading in luxury when you engage in a Land Rover® Experience at Biltmore. Book a one- or two-hour session and receive expert training to maneuver on unfamiliar terrain.
    • Extend the adventure with a full-day excursion that includes a mid-day break for a private picnic lunch–now that’s romantic! 
  • Falconry
    • Let romance take flight as you experience the ancient art of falconry together. Learn about these fascinating birds of prey as well as hawks and barn owls, and receive expert training on handling and interacting with these captivating raptors.
Make a morning reservation for Biltmore House and feel like a guest of the Vanderbilts.
Enjoy Biltmore House from a new perspective with our breathtaking Rooftop Tour.
With so much to see and do at Biltmore during your getaway, stay overnight at The Inn (above), Village Hotel (below), or one of our private historic cottages to ensure you have time to experience it all.

Rise and shine

Beth Poslusny, Vice President of Destination Guest Experience, suggests making it a truly romantic getaway with accommodations and special packages at The Inn on Biltmore Estate®, Village Hotel on Biltmore Estate® or one of our private historic cottages.

“You’ll have the unique opportunity to awaken on the estate,” said Beth, “and there’s no better way to start a special day together!”

Make your date or getaway more romantic with the addition of a Behind-the-Scenes Guided Tour:

  • The Biltmore House Backstairs Tour offers enthralling stories of domestic staff while exploring their lives and the areas where they worked.
  • Our Rooftop Tour offers a bird’s eye view of the house, with fascinating little-known details about the construction and design of the 175,000-square-foot home. 
Enjoy our Red Wine and Chocolate Tasting featuring premium Biltmore wines and artisan chocolate truffles from French Broad Chocolates. 📷 by @chelseaericasmith & @thewineshutter
Biltmore’s Winery offers wonderful ways to savor and share all year round, including the new Chandelier by Chihuly.
Whether you’re in the Tasting Room or the Wine Bar, our knowledgeable wine experts are on hand to guide your selections.
Sometimes the smallest details are the most romantic, like enjoying ice cream or hot chocolate together!

Table for two

As part of your romantic date or getaway, make time to wine and dine on the estate with your special someone.

Winery
Surprise your significant other by booking a Red Wine & Chocolate Tasting and learn why the flavors are a match made in heaven–just like the two of you!

Round out the romance with the following options:

  • Reserve time for a complimentary tasting where you’ll learn about Biltmore’s winemaking heritage.
  • Unwind at the indoor-outdoor Wine Bar to enjoy Biltmore wines with charcuterie, cheese, and chocolates, then stock up on favorite vintages and accessories at the Wine Shop.
  • Rekindle your memories at home with a membership in our Vanderbilt Wine Club®.

Delicious Dining
“From fine dining to casual, quick-service options and sweet treats, Biltmore offers fabulous flavors to suit every taste,” said Estate Executive Chef Mark DeMarco. “Something as simple as sipping hot chocolate from The Creamery while you stroll around Antler Hill Village can make any date more memorable.”

For the ultimate romantic dinner, Chef DeMarco suggests reserving a table for two in The Dining Room at The Inn on Biltmore Estate–both the restaurant and The Inn have earned a prestigious Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star rating for world-class service and gracious hospitality.

Plan a special romantic activity at Biltmore, or just enjoy time well spent together.
Cheers to your next romantic date or getaway at Biltmore!
Each season offers beautiful and romantic reasons to plan a date at Biltmore, like a stroll through the Azalea Garden during spring.

Plan your next romantic date or getaway now

 No matter what activities light your fire, the variety of things to do at Biltmore will provide the perfect spark for your next romantic date or getaway.

Featured image: This couple’s romantic date included a selfie in front of Biltmore House!

Art History at Biltmore: Tales Within Tapestries

At Biltmore Estate in Asheville, NC, some of the most notable art history in our collection appears as tales within tapestries.

Let’s explore some of the pieces that were created during the Renaissance—a time when patrons often commissioned artists to create masterpieces based on religious, mythological, and historical symbols and allegory.

Overview of Tapestry Gallery in Biltmore House
At 90 feet in length, the Tapestry Gallery is the longest room in Biltmore House. Painted limestone overmantels above each fireplace visually divide the room into thirds, with each third devoted to one of the three tapestries George Vanderbilt acquired from an original set of seven known as “The Triumph of the Seven Virtues.”

The Tapestry Gallery is the longest room in Biltmore House, and was designed to showcase part of a set of tapestries known as The Triumph of the Seven Virtues.

Woven from wool and silk in Flanders (now part of Belgium) between 1525–1535, these tapestries were intended to illustrate how the seven virtues−faith, prudence, charity, chastity, temperance, fortitude, and justice−would always prevail over vice.

“No one knows exactly who originally commissioned the tapestries or where they hung, but it’s speculated that they would have been displayed in the manor house of a wealthy and aristocratic family,” said Lauren Henry, Curator.

Centuries of survival

Overview of Virtue of Charity tapestry in Biltmore House
The “Triumph of Charity” shown here is one of the three tapestries from the “Triumph of Seven Virtues” series that George Vanderbilt purchased for Biltmore House. Other examples of the remaining tapestries are housed in just 10 collections across the world, including the Cluny Museum in Paris, the Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool, England, and The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco.

While multiple sets were created, very few of them survived through the centuries, and there are no examples of the Triumph of Temperance still in existence.

“There are three in Biltmore’s collection, arranged from left to right in the Tapestry Galley: The Triumph of Prudence, The Triumph of Faith, and The Triumph of Charity,” Lauren said.

Triumph of Prudence

Figures of King David and Abigail
Detail from the “Virtue of Prudence” tapestry showing King David and Abigail from 1 Samuel 25.

Each virtue is illustrated through biblical stories and symbols that would have been familiar to people in 16th-century Europe. To more modern eyes, however, the meaning of the figures in the tapestries can be a bit mysterious.

Serpent head symbol
Detail of one of three fearsome serpent heads featured in the “Triumph of Prudence” tapestry.

Triumph of Faith

Overview of Triumph of Faith tapestry
The central figure in the “Triumph of Faith” represents The Church as a body. In the upper left corner, there is a depiction of the story of Jacob’s ladder with an angel climbing into heaven. The chariot of fire next to it represents the prophet Elijah, while the blindfolded woman on the pedestal next to that symbolizes the old law.

“The tapestry in the center of the Tapestry Gallery is the Triumph of Faith, which is believed to be the only one still in existence,” said Lauren.

The Latin inscription at the top reads “Holy Faith believes by the Divine Word and worships God through every dutiful practice.”

Symbolism

Detail of the Triumph of Faith tapestry
Detail of the “Triumph of Faith” showing the figure of the winged man riding a lion.

The virtue of Faith is depicted as a woman holding a church, chalice and cross. Below her, the figure of a winged man represents the human aspect of Christ, riding on a lion, representing both the apostle Mark and the Resurrection.

The ox represents the sacramental nature of Christ. The Eagle represents the apostle John. All four of these symbols were said to have been seen as guardians of the throne of God by the prophet Ezekiel.

Grand Staircase Tapestry

Framed tapestry displayed on the first landing of the Grand Staircase in Biltmore House
Woven in rich reds, blues, and golds, this 15th-16th century tapestry depicts the Christ child with the Madonna and Saint Anne.

Another beautiful tapestry in Biltmore’s collection is displayed in a frame at the first landing on the Grand Staircase.

“This is a Franco-Flemish Renaissance biblical tapestry, created in the late 15th or early 16th century,” said Lauren. “It portrays the Christ child with his mother, the Madonna, and her mother Saint Anne. The three figures are seated on a throne with a chapel and a fortress in the distance.”

This tapestry is one of the older pieces in the Biltmore collection, and while Museum Services doesn’t know as much about it as they do some of the others, they continue to look for details in both the provenance of the piece and its symbolism.

“One thing we can tell, just from the design, is that it was commissioned by an extremely wealthy patron,” Lauren said. “Notice how much blue is used throughout the tapestry, both in the background, and in the robes of the Madonna and Saint Anne. Before the advent of mass-produced dyes, this ‘ultramarine’ blue—which would have been shockingly vibrant when it was first woven—was incredibly difficult to make and, therefore, very expensive.”

Discover Biltmore’s tapestries

Plan your visit now to see the remarkable tapestries noted here–plus the grand Venus and Vulcan tapestry series that graces the Banquet Hall.

Featured image: Detail from the Triumph of Prudence tapestry in the Tapestry Gallery of Biltmore House.

Our Sparkling Wines Make New Year’s Shine!

Biltmore sparkling wines make New Year’s shine–and they’re perfect for any other holiday or special occasion!

Sparkling wines with cake and macarons
Add Biltmore sparkling wines to all your holiday and New Year’s celebrations

“George and Edith Vanderbilt were known for their hospitality,” said Sharon Fenchak, Biltmore’s Winemaker. “And when it came to their holiday and New Year’s celebrations, they made sure to add even more sparkle, so to speak, for their guests to enjoy while visiting Biltmore.”

We love to carry on Vanderbilt family traditions—and create new ones—by adding our sparkling wines to New Year’s celebrations along with favorite red, white, and rosé selections from our estate Winery.

Here are Sharon’s helpful tips for serving and pairing sparkling wines:

Serve sparkling wines like a pro

Pouring Biltmore sparkling wine into a glass
Biltmore sparkling wines are characterized by fine, tiny bubbles
  • Sparkling wines are best served at 33-40 degrees.
  • Chill the bottle in the refrigerator prior to opening. The cold temperature helps preserve the bubbles when opening the bottle.
  • To open sparkling wine, hold the bottle at a 45-degree angle. Loosen the cage and hold the cork. Gently twist the cork until you hear a whisper of a pop.
  • Holding a towel over the cork when opening will help catch any spills that may occur.
  • After opening, all sparkling wines begin to lose their bubbles, so it’s best to drink them as soon as possible.

Biltmore bubbles add sparkle to any occasion

Keep plenty of Biltmore bubbles on hand to help season the holiday with cheer!

From easy appetizers and classic cocktails to decadent desserts, add extra sparkle to your New Year’s celebrations with the delightful handcrafted bubbles of Biltmore sparkling wines!

  • Biltmore Estate® Blanc de Noir: Fruit-forward and refreshing with flavors of cherries and strawberries and a pretty pink holiday hue.
    • Pairing suggestions: flounder, mahi-mahi, turkey, pound cake, brie cheese, and fresh fruit
  • Pas de Deux® Sec: Semi-sweet and bursting with tiny bubbles, this aromatic wine features the essence of orange blossom and flavors of wild strawberry and lemon.
    • Pairing suggestions: fresh fruit, chocolate-covered strawberries, crème brulee, pumpkin pie
    • Decadent dessert to grace your holiday table: Praline Pumpkin Pie
  • Biltmore Estate® Château Reserve Blanc de Blancs: Our finest sparkling wine, handcrafted from exceptional Chardonnay grapes harvested in Biltmore’s own vineyard.
    • Pairing suggestions: caviar, pâté, oysters on the half shell, aged asiago cheese, ceviche, and wedding cake
    • Classic cocktail to toast the New Year: French Rose 75

Stock up on sparkling wines now for your New Year’s celebrations

Staff favorites: Biltmore wine and gourmet food in a basket
Surprise someone special with a gift basket filled with Biltmore sparkling wine, gourmet food, and other goodies

Just in time for New Year’s toasts and midnight munching, stock up on all your favorite Biltmore wines and gourmet foods in estate shops and online.

Menu Makeover: Updating a 1904 Thanksgiving Meal

Biltmore’s experts have done a complete menu makeover to update the Vanderbilt family’s 1904 Thanksgiving meal.

A food-focused holiday

“Thanksgiving is a food-focused holiday,” said Lauren Hentry, Curator of Interpretation, “and that tradition is as true today as it was in 1904 when George and Edith Vanderbilt celebrated the holiday with a multi-course dinner for family and guests.”

According to Lauren, Biltmore’s archives include a handwritten menu for Thanksgiving Dinner 1904 that features time-honored favorites like turkey, ham, and sweet potatoes, plus more unusual offerings such as braised calves’ brains.

Archival Biltmore House menu book
Biltmore’s archival menu book dated Saturday, November 12, 1904

“While some of those dishes don’t sound as appealing today, they were the height of elegant dining during the Gilded Age,” Lauren said. 

In addition, the original holiday menu topped out at eight courses. That seems like a lot of food to modern diners, but Lauren noted that the portions were fairly small, and it was also common for a formal dinner of the era to last two hours or more.

Fresh takes on classic fare

Knowing how much tastes have changed in the last century, we asked Estate Executive Chef Mark DeMarco to look at the 1904 menu and suggest updates for a modern menu makeover on some traditional Thanksgiving dishes.

“There was a real emphasis on meat on the Vanderbilts’ menu—both roast turkey and Virginia ham were served, plus those previously noted calves’ brains,” said Chef DeMarco. “While turkey is still the main feature at most Thanksgiving dinners, today’s cooks also give just as much attention to the accompanying dishes.”

Menu makeover: easy appetizer

Salmon rillettes paired with Biltmore wine
Salmon rillettes make an elegant appetizer that’s easy to prepare ahead of time

The Vanderbilts’ 1904 celebration began with oysters on the half shell, followed by “Consomme Royal” and broiled Spanish mackerel. For a more modern adaptation, Chef DeMarco kept the seafood theme with an appetizer of Salmon Rillettes.

“This is an elegant appetizer that’s really quite easy—you can even make it a day in advance and chill it until you’re ready to serve with toasted baguettes,” Chef DeMarco said.

Wine pairing suggestion: Savor the salmon rillettes with our Vanderbilt Reserve Pinot Noir Russian River Valley—it’s a perfect complement for the rich, savory appetizer and a wonderful way to welcome family and friends to the table!

Menu makeover: updating George Vanderbilt’s favorite dish

Roast turkey paired with glasses of Biltmore white wine
Pair traditional roast turkey with Biltmore Reserve Chardonnay

We know from archival information that George Vanderbilt loved roast turkey and it was frequently served at Biltmore. For our modern menu makeover, Chef DeMarco recommends our Simple Brined and Roasted Turkey recipe to ensure you bring the most tender, flavorful main dish to the table. 

Wine pairing suggestion: Enjoy the classic varietal character of our smooth Biltmore Reserve® Chardonnay North Carolina—handcrafted from estate-grown grapes—with your Thanksgiving turkey, on its own, or as part of our Thanksgiving Wine Trio, carefully curated to complement your celebration.

Menu makeover: sensational sides

Thanksgiving menu makeover with green beans
Dress up green beans with brown butter, pancetta, and hazel nuts

Cranberry jelly and a medley of vegetables appear on the 1904 menu. Our modernized dinner brings brighter flavors to the meal with two styles of cranberry sauce—elegant and easy Red Wine Cranberry Sauce and the sophisticated flavors of Bittersweet Cranberry Sauce—alongside Green Beans with Pancetta and Hazelnut Brown Butter, a dish that elevates green beans to something sublime!

Wine pairing suggestion: While it’s normally considered a bit difficult to pair certain sides with wines, our Thanksgiving Wine Trio brings together Biltmore Reserve® Chardonnay North Carolina, The Hunt Red Blend Sonoma County, and Biltmore Estate® Blanc de Blancs sparkling wine covers most options.

Menu makeover: dessert decadence

Thankgiving menu makeover with Pumpkin-Pecan Layer Cake
We think Edith Vanderbilt would have enjoyed this delicious Pumpkin-Pecan Layer Cake

Cake was one of Edith Vanderbilt’s favorite desserts, so the inclusion of pineapple cake (along with mince pie) on the 1904 menu is not surprising. For our updated interpretation of classic holiday flavors, try our Pumpkin and Pecan Layer Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting—it’s a flavorful combination to round out your holiday meal in style!

Wine pairing suggestion: Uncork the festive bubbles of Biltmore Estate® Blanc de Blancs sparkling wine with a decadent dessert like this and offer a toast to celebrate the occasion.

Bring our Thanksgiving Wine Trio to the table

Biltmore Wines Thanksgiving Wine Trio
Our Thanksgiving Wine Trio offers perfect pairings for your holiday menu!

Whether your Thanksgiving table is laden with tried-and-true classics or modern new dishes, we hope your holiday is filled with fellowship, good memories, and delicious wine-and-food pairings like our menu makeover options and the following alternate suggestions that work with our Thanksgiving Wine Trio:

Wrap Up Holiday Gift Giving with Biltmore Wines!

When you wrap up your holiday gift giving with Biltmore wines, everyone on your gift list will know how much they mean to you!

Floral designer Hope Wright recently retired from a 23-year career at Biltmore where she specialized in floral design at A Gardener’s Place gift shop below the Conservatory. We caught up with Hope for some expert guidance on gift wrapping wine to make it even more special.

Bottle of Biltmore wine in a gift bag
Dress up a plain wine gift bag with a bright bow and a tassel or other ornamentation

“I love Biltmore wines and I often give them as gifts, especially during the holiday season,” said Hope. “And while there’s nothing wrong with simply placing a bottle of wine in a gift bag, it’s also nice to wrap it in a creative way that says ‘you’re special’ to your recipient.”

Timeless natural elements

“Here are two easy ideas that look beautiful using a little bit of ribbon and the kind of greenery you can often cut from your own backyard or local park,” Hope said. “It doesn’t take much to make a big impact.”

Crown of ivy

Biltmore Estate Dry Rose wine with a crown of ivy
Create a simple “crown of ivy” to adorn the top of a wine bottle

To create this “crown of ivy” topper for our Biltmore Estate® Dry Rosé, Hope clipped an 18-inch strand of small leaf ivy and wrapped it several times around the neck of the bottle, tucking the end of the vine into itself to keep it in place.

She used about 18 inches of narrow, patterned ribbon to tie a simple shoestring-style bow and attached it to the ivy crown with wired twine. “I purposely attached the bow off-center,” said Hope, “so the wine label shows prominently,”

As a finishing touch, Hope clipped the ends of the bow to a length she liked and wound the ends of wired twine into a few whimsical tendrils that complemented the ivy.

Ribbon wrapping

Biltmore Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon wrapped with a ribbon and greenery
This gift-wrapping treatment couldn’t be more simple–or more beautiful!

Hope wrapped a length of burlap ribbon around the bottle just below its mid-section, making sure not to cover up the label. Our Biltmore Reserve wines on this outstanding Biltmore® Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon North Carolina. Handcrafted from estate-grown grapes, all of our Biltmore® Reserve wines offer an excellent way to give a local item as a gift.

She used a different type of ribbon to tie a simple bow around the bottle, centering it over the first ribbon for contrast.

“Once you have the ribbons and the bow in place, you can tuck in any type of greenery you like. I used two different colors of arborvitae to create more interest and texture, but sprigs of ivy would work, or a twig with berries–the possibilities are endless!” Hope noted.

Wrap up your holiday gift giving

To wrap these wine bottles for gift giving, Hope used the same wrapping technique on each of them, but varied the wrapping material and trimmings.

Global journey

Wine bottle wrapped in a map
Create serious travel vibes by wrapping a wine bottle in a vintage map

For the travelers on your gift list, wrap a bottle of wine in a vintage map, like this one that Hope found in a thrift store. For an eco-friendly option, you could also opt for recycled brown craft paper or upcycled paper shopping bags.

To fully cover a Biltmore Wine bottle with your paper of choice, you’ll need a 24″x 24″ section of the paper. After wrapping the wine, Hope knotted a length of raffia around the neck of the bottle, then added a simple bow of red ribbon and a bit of greenery for some holiday flare.

Wrap it royally

Biltmore wine bottle wrapped in elegant fabric
Look for rich fabric remnants that you can repurpose for wrapping a bottle of Biltmore wine

“In addition to vintage maps, I look for beautiful fabric remnants that will make gorgeous gift wrap for wines,” said Hope. “Simply wrap the bottle, then tie a coordinating ribbon around the neck–that’s all you need to make it special.”

As a bonus, Hope created an elegant pine tassel to set off the regal look of this wine gift, She clipped enough white pine needles to get a full-looking tassel, hot-glued the tops together, and bound the top with narrow wired twine to hide the glue. While binding the top, she also made a loop of the wired twine to go around the neck of the bottle.

Step-by-step: tea towel wine gift wrap

Collage showing steps for wrapping a wine bottle in a tea towel
To gift wrap a wine bottle in a tea towel, follow the easy steps shown here

Hope chose a Biltmore tea towel with a Christmas pattern to gift wrap this exceptional bottle of The Hunt Red Blend Sonoma County. After fluffing the ends of the tea towel, she tied an elegant bow of wired silk ribbon around the neck.

To make the gift twice as nice, Hope added a pretty Biltmore Christmas ornament to the bottle.

“Look at each of steps shown in this instructional collage,” Hope said, “and you’ll see how easy it really is to gift wrap a wine bottle in a tea towel!”

Gift giving: bundles and baskets

Biltmore cheeseboard, wine, and dip mixes bundled for gift giving
Bundle several items with a similar theme, like a stylish cheeseboard, a bottle of Biltmore wine, and a selection of our delicious gourmet mixes and dips

Wrap up a bountiful bundle

“Here’s an easy way to create a bundle of gifts that share a common theme,” said Hope. “Choose a sturdy cheeseboard and secure a bottle of Biltmore wine to it with a ribbon. Add a stack of Biltmore’s delicious gourmet food mixes and dips to the board and tie a wide ribbon around the whole bundle.”

For an extra surprise, Hope turned a set of cheese knives into a special topper for the bundle, then tucked a few sprigs of fresh rosemary around the tools.

“The rosemary is the crowning touch that pulls the culinary theme together,” Hope noted, “and it smells wonderful, too!”

Holiday hospitality in a basket

Staff favorites: Biltmore wine and gourmet food in a basket
Surprise someone special with a gift basket filled with Biltmore sparkling wine, gourmet food, and other goodies

Who wouldn’t want to receive a basket of holiday hospitality full of Biltmore wine and gourmet goodies, especially when it is embellished with fresh greenery and ribbons?

“For this gift giving example, I chose a medium-sized basket that would easily hold a bottle of Biltmore Estate® Blanc de Blancs sparkling wine, a selection of Biltmore mixes and dips, Wassail Drink Spice, seasonings and sauces, and a holiday tea towel,” said Hope.

She lined the basket with a type of honeycomb packaging paper that’s recyclable, and tucked in a few cardboard risers to keep smaller items from falling to the bottom.

Once everything was arranged to Hope’s satisfaction, she filled in the background with magnolia leaves and pine cones, wired an elegant golden bow to the basket’s rim, and balanced the look with a Biltmore Christmas ornament on the other side.

Make holiday gift giving more merry!

Bottles of Biltmore wine wrapped for gift giving
Wrap up your gift giving with Biltmore wines, and consider including a bottle of our sparkling grape juice for those who prefer that option.

“All the ideas I’ve shown here easy to recreate,” Hope said, “and that was my goal. I hope you’ll be inspired to surprise friends and family with special touches like these that make your holiday gift giving even more meaningful.”

Find everything you need to celebrate the season in style–including Biltmore wines, Biltmore sparkling grape juice, and gourmet foods–at estate shops and online at biltmoreshop.com.

Hosts in Biltmore House: A Brief History

Our Interpretive Hosts are integral to visits to Biltmore House in Asheville, NC. Whether you’re enjoying the main tour route of America’s Largest Home® or exploring via one of our more in-depth, behind-the-scenes tours, these trained storytellers strive to offer an accurate and entertaining interpretation of Biltmore’s history and collections.

But did you know that Interpretive Hosts weren’t always part of the Biltmore House experience? Let’s take a look back at the history of touring Biltmore, which began before the house was even opened.

Archival estate admission ticket, ca. 1920
Archival estate admission ticket, ca. 1920.

Visiting the Gardens & Grounds of the Estate

According to archival correspondence, George Vanderbilt allowed the public to drive on estate roads as early as 1894—before the construction of Biltmore House was even completed!

But it wasn’t until October 1903 that a formalized pass system was developed, which included an admission cost for everyone, except select guests of the Vanderbilts.

The reverse side of these original estate tickets included the following regulations:

  1. The plucking of flowers or breaking of trees or shrubs is forbidden.
  2. It is forbidden to drive over planted areas or the borders of roads.
  3. The taking of photographs anywhere on the Estate is prohibited.

And the admission rates at this time were as follows:

  • 25c for a vehicle drawn by one horse and carrying 1 or 2 persons, or for a person on horseback.
  • 50c for a 2-horse vehicle carrying not over five persons. For each additional person 10c; for each additional horse 25c.
  • 10c for a single person on foot or with a bicycle.

According to our records, not much changed in terms of regulations or pricing for the first 18 or so years after this initial pass system was developed. In 1921, charges for admission were updated as follows: 5 passenger car (4 passengers & driver) $1; 7 passenger car (6 passengers & driver) $1.50.

Cornelia Vanderbilt Cecil and John A. V. Cecil (center) at the public opening of Biltmore House, 1930
Cornelia Vanderbilt Cecil and John A. V. Cecil (center) at the public opening of Biltmore House, 1930.

Visiting Biltmore House

In 1930, George Vanderbilt’s daughter Cornelia and her husband John A. V.  Cecil opened Biltmore House to the public. This decision was made in response to requests to increase tourism in the Asheville area during the Depression and to generate income to preserve the estate.

This milestone was a fundamental shift in the way the public was able to experience Biltmore. Previous to this, only select guests of the Vanderbilts were fortunate enough to see the interiors of America’s Largest Home® and the invaluable collection it housed.

“Mr. Cecil and I hope that through opening Biltmore House to the public, Asheville and Western North Carolina will derive all the benefit they deserve and that the people who go through the house and the estate will get as much pleasure and enjoyment out of it as Mr. Cecil and I do in making it possible. I also want to say that we both feel in doing this, it is a fitting memorial to my father. After all, it was his life’s work and creation.”

— Cornelia Vanderbilt Cecil’s welcome speech at the opening of Biltmore House, March 15, 1930, as quoted in the Asheville Citizen

One of our Biltmore Interpretive Hosts leads a small group tour in the Winter Garden
One of our Biltmore Interpretive Hosts leads a small group tour in the Winter Garden.

Hosts in Biltmore House

In the late 1980s, hosts were introduced to the Biltmore House experience. For the first time, guests were offered accurate information about the collection, the Vanderbilt family, and the house itself.

Today, our Interpretive Hosts undergo extensive training to ensure they have knowledge about every object on display—yet they do not follow a script, making each of their interactions with our guests truly unique.

We invite you to discover all of our wonderful tour offerings at Biltmore House, and enjoy a one-of-a-kind experience every time, thanks to our talented Interpretive Hosts.

Outstanding In Our Field: Biltmore’s Farming Legacy

When it comes to farming history, Biltmore is truly outstanding in the field. Learn about how we continue to honor this agricultural legacy by connecting our present and future initiatives to our historic past.

Archival image of men cutting hay at Biltmore
Archival photograph of our farming history: estate workers harvesting hay at Biltmore

Establishing a legacy

When George Vanderbilt began planning his grand estate in Asheville, North Carolina, his vision was twofold. First, he wanted to create a relaxing place to entertain friends and family. Just as important, however, was his desire to preserve the Blue Ridge Mountain beauty surrounding his home.

In choosing Frederick Law Olmsted, world-renowned landscape architect, to design the expansive gardens and grounds of Biltmore Estate, Vanderbilt was not only setting the stage for some of the most remarkable gardens in America, but he was also availing himself of Olmsted’s years of experience in managing vast tracts of public and private land.

An archival photo of our farming history at Biltmore
Archival farm image of the Historic Horse Barn and Line House Cottages for Biltmore Dairy employees.

Olmsted’s advice

After visiting the property in 1889 with Vanderbilt, Olmsted wrote: “My advice would be to make a small park into which to look from your house; make a small pleasure ground and garden, farm your river bottom chiefly to keep and fatten livestock with view to manure, and make the rest a forest, improving the existing woods and planting the old fields.”

Vanderbilt agreed with Olmsted’s recommendations, including the suggestion that agricultural operations be developed and that Vanderbilt implement Olmsted’s long-term plan for sustainability. From this decision came the nation’s first planned forestry program and the beginning of a family focus on environmental stewardship that continues today with George Vanderbilt’s descendants who still own and manage Biltmore.

Archival photo of estate workers and residents at the Market Gardener's Cottage at Biltmore
Agricultural workers and estate residents at the Market Gardener’s Cottage, photographed in front of an elaborate display of estate-raised produce,

Farmer Vanderbilt

Agricultural operations at Biltmore were intended to achieve three goals: supplying dairy products, meat, poultry, fruits, and vegetables for use in Biltmore House; providing income through sales of farm products; and serving as a learning laboratory in successful farming for farmers and educators.

Receipts and invoices in the estate’s archives document the construction of farm buildings and cottages, the purchase of animals, supplies, and equipment, and the hiring of farm staff beginning as early as September 1889.

Agricultural programs included beef, pork, and poultry farms, an apiary, vegetable gardens, fruit orchards, hay for livestock, and more. The most successful of these initiatives would be Biltmore Dairy, which eventually became one of the largest operations in the southeast.

Biltmore Forestry
Our emphasis on managed forestry continues today across the estate.

Forestry continues on the estate

Today, more than 4,000 acres of the estate are managed under a plan written by a certified consulting forester. We utilize selection harvest in 15-year rotations, allowing a chance for different species to grow and mature.

Instead of focusing on just a profitable bottom line, Biltmore strives to create a true multiuse sustainable forest: one that provides healthy wildlife habitats, beautiful aesthetics, recreation opportunities, and the ability to persist for generations to come.

Man standing in front of cattle
Kyle Mayberry, Director of Agriculture, oversees Biltmore’s current farming operations.

Today’s agricultural operations

Biltmore currently farms approximately 2,500 acres of land. This includes our estate vineyards, cropland for grains and forages, pasturage for cattle, chickens, hogs, sheep, and horses, and greenhouses that supply estate restaurants with fresh produce.

To help preserve one of its most valuable resources—the land—Biltmore seeks to continue the tradition of resource stewardship by following best agricultural practices including rotational grazing of livestock; rotating crops on a four-year cycle to help reduce soil erosion and increasing soil fertility; and using goats to control invasive plant species in areas of steep terrain, which allows maintenance crews to take on other projects while reducing some diesel fuel usage in equipment.

As part of our farm history, we raise heritage hog breeds that George Vanderbilt favored
One way we continue our farming legacy is by raising some of the same heritage breeds that George Vanderbilt favored like these Berkshire hogs.

Connecting our past and present farm history

Biltmore continues to honor George Vanderbilt’s legacy of preserving the land and protecting the environment through many ecological, recycling, and alternative energy programs.

Guests visiting the 8,000-acre estate can take a deeper look into our agricultural history at Antler Hill Barn, where you can see antique farming equipment, watch craft demonstrations, and visit friendly farm animals at the Farmyard, and through the Farm to Table Tour & Taste guided experience, which includes a special tour of Biltmore’s farms on the rarely-seen West Side of the estate.

Featured image: Archival image of Edith Vanderbilt operating a farm tractor while her daughter Cornelia and others watch.

Our Holiday Gingerbread House Was Built To Last

Biltmore’s holiday gingerbread house was built to last–mostly because it’s not really made from real gingerbread!

Although the fanciful replica of America’s Largest Home® appears to be constructed from freshly baked gingerbread that’s been decorated with swirls of snowy icing and old-fashioned candy details, it’s actually an incredibly detailed work of art from our friends at Applied Imagination.

Gingerbread house version of Biltmore House
Once finished, the faux gingerbread version of Biltmore House had to be carefully transported from Applied Imagination’s workshop in Alexandria, KY, to Asheville, NC

These talented artists specialize in handcrafting architectural models, sculptures, and garden railways out of natural materials. They created all of our Biltmore Gardens Railway displays and Ciao! From Italy Sculptural Postcards in Antler Hill Village now through February 19, 2024.

In past years, our talented Biltmore Estate pastry chefs created real confectionary replicas of Biltmore House, but it was always a monumental task that took weeks to complete and needed a lot of space to assemble. It was also challenging to transport the finished gingerbread house to the Main Kitchen without losing some wreaths and roof tiles along the way!

A firm foundation

Wooden model of Biltmore House
Jason Pleva puts finishing touches on his scale model of Biltmore House

In 2017, Jason Pleva, a member of Biltmore’s carpentry team, used the plans of Biltmore House to build a wooden scale model that could be used as a base for a gingerbread house. It was a good solution that shaved off a lot of construction time, but unfortunately, our chefs found that decorative icing doesn’t cling to wood as well as it does to gingerbread.

Because we’d had so many wonderful experiences with Applied Imagination and the amazing structures they’d created for our Biltmore Gardens Railway displays, we asked if the artists could tackle this Christmas conundrum for us, using Jason’s model as a base for a gingerbread house that would be as long lasting as it was beautiful.

In September 2021, Stephanie Winters, Creative Director/Lead Sculptor, and Ava Roberts, Assistant Sculptor, of Applied Imagination finished their version of America’s Largest Home®. The results were breathtaking, and our “gingerbread house” now takes place of pride in our Main Kitchen during Christmas at Biltmore.

Fun facts from the gingerbread construction project:

  • Time to complete: 1200 hours over the course of five months
  • Measurements: 78½” wide x 32” deep x 32” high (including spires)

Building materials

Detail of gingerbread house version of Biltmore House
Applied Imagination created wonderful details, right down to the beloved marble lions at the Front Door of Biltmore House
  • Gingerbread Cookie Base
    • Tile grout mixed with Mod Podge® Matte and sponged onto 3/16” Gatorboard shapes
  • Wavy Shingled Roof
    • Wooden fan handles covered with tile grout and Mod Podge
  • Windows and Mullions
    • Window panes created with modeling dowel rods and architectural modeling materials (bass wood).
    • Windows created with poured casting resin sprinkled with clear glitter.
    • Textured windows (exterior staircase) have the addition of large, granular, clear beads mixed with resin.
    • Windows backed with gold shimmer paper to resemble the effect of being lit within.
  • Spires on Roof, Staircase Facade, Window Tops, Railing Tops
    • Antique glass headpins; large and small twist shapes in dark green, light green, purple, and pale ice; top spires painted antique gold
  • Piped Icing Shapes
    • All piped icing that makes up the majority of detail on the Biltmore House model was created completely by hand with Liquid Sculpey® (polymer clay). Shapes were formed using latex cake-decorating molds.
  • Snow Blanket
    • Spackling paste to create a base for sculpting and building shapes
    • Clear glass diamond glitter was sprinkled on wet paste to give snow drifts and mounds the look of fresh powder
  • Trees and Bushes
    • Dry floral design cones and spheres, further sculpted by hand to resemble pine tree shapes. Finished with paint and landscape modeling greenery.
  • Biltmore Lions
    • Paper clay and white acrylic paint with a small amount of gold tinted glitter/mica.
  • Garland
    • Thin and flexible English faux pine rope
    • Faux miniature boxwood/bay leaf roping
    • Feathery evergreen (lions’ necks)
    • Floral accents: faux red and gold berries; red velvet and gold-backed ribbon hand-fashioned into miniature bows
Gingerbread house in the Main Kitchen at Biltmore
The gingerbread house takes place of pride in the Main Kitchen during Christmas at Biltmore

Candy decorations

  • Faux Candy Decorations
    • Resin gumdrops and gummies (edge and facade details)
    • Sculpey clay chocolate swirls (base of the spires)
    • Chocolate shavings, glass glitter (soot/embers in chimney tops, base of lions, base of spires, front facade details)
    • Resin chocolate pretzels (fancy railings)
    • Resin chocolate chips (spires inset)
    • Small sugared gum drops, glass/plastic headpins (main detail throughout in purple, orange, yellow, red, green)
    • Variety of candy colored balls of various sizes (beads and headpins)
    • Sculpey clay swirled balls (small detail elements)
  • Cut Cinnamon Sticks
    • Facade details, small railings, wrought iron base for spires
  • Peppermint Sticks
    • Small (vintage paper hand-rolled on dowel rods)
    • Large sticks on main facade (decorative paper on dowel rods)
    • Peppermint balls on main facade (vintage spun cotton and thread)
  • Gumballs, Gingerballs, Round Bulb Ornaments
    • Green and red faux floral berries, gold- and silver-painted floral berries, painted beads

Celebrate Christmas at Biltmore

The Banquet Hall Tree: A Christmas at Biltmore Tradition
The Banquet Hall Christmas Tree is a favorite holiday tradition

To see this marvelous piece of eye candy displayed in the Main Kitchen, make reservations for a holiday visit during our annual Christmas at Biltmore celebration, November 3, 2023–January 7, 2024, in Asheville, NC.