In 1971, George Vanderbilt’s grandson William A.V. Cecil first experimented with vineyards and winemaking at Biltmore. From a harvest of French-American hybrid grapes planted within sight of Biltmore House, the inaugural vintage was bottled in the estate’s Conservatory.
Unsatisfied with the results, Mr. Cecil sought advice from wine experts at the University of California at Davis. Although researchers were uncertain that vinifera cultivation was truly possible in western North Carolina because of the region’s general growing conditions, they worked closely with Mr. Cecil to suggest new advances in grape-growing methods and technology.
Mr. Cecil continued to pursue his winemaking goals by moving the vineyard to the west side of the estate and planting vinifera grapes. In 1977, he traveled to France to persuade sixth-generation winemaster Philippe Jourdain to oversee the development of Biltmore wines and to help build the future of what would become the Biltmore Estate Wine Company.
In the decades since, Biltmore has grown and tested numerous varietals. Six of them–Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Merlot, Riesling, and Viognier–have proven to be well-suited for our Blue Ridge Mountain terroir. We continue to evaluate other varietals in a special test vineyard near the Winery. In an effort to expand our portfolio and consistently craft the highest quality wines, we also partner with select growers in North Carolina, California, and Washington.
Our wines honor the Vanderbilt agricultural heritage and Mr. Cecil’s vision to create new opportunities for his family’s estate in harmony with Biltmore’s mission of preservation.