A couple of weeks before Christmas, we had the pleasure of visiting Biltmore Estate in Asheville, NC. I seem to have developed an affinity for historical land marks recently and since I had never been to Biltmore, I was thrilled for the opportunity to tour the mansion and try the wines. The mansion is absolutely breathtaking (inside and out). Biltmore is the most visited winery in the United States with more than a million visitors each year. I truly believe that most of them were there the day we visited. I was told by the Communications Director, Kathleen Mosher, that we would need to make reservations because Biltmore is so crowded during the Holiday season. By crowded, I thought she meant there would be 200-300 people there. My mistake! There was more like 2,000 – 3,000. The place was packed, even for a mansion. It was so crowded that it was difficult to take notes as we walked through so I am going to let my pictures give you an inside glimpse of what Biltmore Estate has to offer. When it warms up, I will go back and take my time strolling through so that I can actually take it all in (and of course, I am sure I will need a resupply of Biltmore Wine).
I suggest that if you visit Biltmore, you rent a set of headphones so that you get the full background of each room on your self-guided tour. You wouldn’t want to miss the intricate details of how and why various design features were chosen and which ones were out of necessity instead of design.
George Vanderbilt had Biltmore built and officially opened the home to friends and family Christmas Eve, 1895 but construction continued for years. Even though we perceive sustainability as a new concept, Biltmore was built with sustainability in mind and the family has always worked toward the Estate being fully self-sufficient. “Biltmore is still family-owned, and we are passionate about our mission of preservation through self-sufficiency—a philosophy embraced before the first stone was ever put in place.” (Bill Cecil, Great Grandson of George Vanderbilt and President of The Biltmore Company).
Pipe organs were very typical in homes of the affluent in the late 1800′s and early 1900′s.
Rich leather was used to cover the walls in this dining room.
Banquet hall used for entertaining and holiday gatherings. This room was used at Christmas when the Vanderbilt family would invite all their employees to celebrate with them. Each employee received a gift (as did their children) for the holidays.
If you look closely at the three-bay fireplace, you will notice the hand-carved stone mantle piece. This was quite the undertaking, not just the craftsmanship that was involved, but mounting something of this magnitude on the wall.
This was the Vanderbilt’s library – packed with literary works from all over the world; but even more impressive is the detail of the hand-carved wood railings, the sculpture over the fireplace and the mural on the ceiling. George Vanderbilt, being influenced by his Mother’s cultural interests, learned to love books and art at an early age.
Trellised Breezeway for relaxing and sipping great Biltmore Estate Wines.
Wines we will be tasting for future posts: Biltmore Estate Reserve Chardonnay, Biltmore Estate Reserve Pinot Noir, Biltmore Century Red. (Already tasted: Biltmore Century Rose’).