by The Traveling Winers
Although the name Biltmore is most famously known for the 250-room mansion located in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Asheville, North Carolina, another connection to the name has been present for the past thirty-plus years – The Biltmore Winery. Passing through North Carolina and being familiar with the Biltmore name prompted The Traveling Winers to take a small detour from zooming along the freeway to stop and take in the local sights. And of course, anytime there is wine involved it makes the decision so much easier!
A new”er” Biltmore legacy
Although Biltmore Estate was officially opened in 1895, it wasn’t until the 1970’s that a winery addition was even on the radar.
George Vanderbilt’s grandson, William A.V. Cecil, presented the idea of an estate winery to the Biltmore Estate Board of Directors and was quickly told “No”. However, with some persistence, in 1974 Mr. Cecil planted an experimental vineyard with French-American hybrid grapes and later with 150-acres of vinifera grapes.
Continuing to push for his winery vision, Mr. Cecil hires French winemaker Philippe Jourdain in ’79 which leads the way to the incorporation of the Biltmore Estate Wine Company in 1983. By 1985 the winery is open to the public and on its way to becoming what it is today – the most visited winery in America producing about 150,000 cases per year and shipping to over 35 states.
Like everything Biltmore…do it BIG!
The winery itself is quite stunning, but this should be no surprise considering that it is part of Biltmore. The foyer takes you back in time with a timeline, telling you the story of how the winery began and where it is today.
To enter the winery you walk through the double glass doors into the most beautifully decorated glass-enclosed walkway. Of course, our visit was during the holiday season so the decorations were simply gorgeous.
Further along, you enter another walkway area surrounded by stone walls giving the appearance of walking through an underground cellar.
Spaced along the path are alcoves inset in the stone walls showcasing displays of the winery history, from the earlier days when the building was a dairy barn to their wine library on display for all to see.
The tasting room is vast with multiple tasting bars manned by several hosts at each station. It is quite the operation! We were most impressed in the way that they welcomed you into the tasting room. At the entrance, they have set it up as you would expect at a fine restaurant. They ask the number in your party and then personally walk you over to one of the tasting bars where there is ample standing room to enjoy your tasting. We were quite impressed with this personalized service.
Again, following along the theme of “everything BIG at Biltmore”, the same holds true for their wine collections. They have five: The Biltmore Estate Collection, the Century Collection, the Reserve Collection, the Antler Hill Collection and the Sparkling Collection. We’re not going to spoil the fun for you by telling you about each of them, but rather encourage you to go visit the estate and the winery yourself. Winery admission and complimentary tasting are included with your estate ticket purchase. They also have other winery experiences available for a fee such as their Red Wine & Chocolate Tasting, Premium Wine Tasting, Behind-the-Scenes Winery Tour & Tasting, Wine & Cheese Hour, and Celebration of Sparkling Wine.
Their wines are made from grapes grown in the 94-acre estate vineyard and from other select North Carolina and California vineyards.
The Winer’s Experience
|AMBIANCE||GROUNDS & SCENERY||TASTING ROOM|
|There is a very classy feel to this winery. Classy and very welcoming.||Absolutely, amazingly gorgeous! It is Biltmore beautiful!||Again, a very classy feel throughout, yet welcoming with tons of space both in the tasting room, at the bar, and in the shop area.|
|WINE TASTING EXPERIENCE||CUSTOMER SERVICE||TECHNICAL KNOWLEDGE|
|Not rushed at all although they were quite busy during our visit. The wine hostess was accommodating and friendly. It was a lovely experience, but we were missing our “spit buckets”. Next time we visit, we will bring our own 🙂||Very comfortable and welcoming. We really liked how they welcome you into the tasting room. You stop at the door and they walk you over to a specific area of one of the many bars. It makes you feel special.||Our pourer seemed to be quite educated with wine at the Biltmore and perhaps some knowledge of winemaking in general.|
Vineyard & Winery Information
|Biltmore Winery||One Lodge Street, Asheville, NC 28803|
|Daily 11am – 7pm|
|Contact form on website||www.biltmore.com||(800) 411-3812|
|MUSIC||WINE CLUB||TASTING FEE|
|At various places throughout the estate, check calendar||Yes||Free with admission to the estate|
|Yes, fee applies||Snacks at the Wine Bar||Several experiences to choose from, check website|