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Biltmore Winery
by
Kathy Sullivan

Biltmore WinerySummary: When visiting Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina, stop by Antler Hill Village for a winery visit. With an average yearly visit of 600,000 wine enthusiasts, the Biltmore Winery is the most visited winery in the United States. Wines are made from grapes on the estate as well as grapes sourced from North Carolina and other wine regions in the United States.

Biltmore Winery, a part of Biltmore Estate, is in Asheville, North Carolina. It is located in a mountainous area of the state. After touring the home of George W. Vanderbilt we drove past the mansion pausing only for seconds to take a photo. The entire estate occupies 8,000 acres so a car is a necessity. We drove for about 10 minutes before reaching Antler Hill Village where restaurants and the winery are located.

Biltmore Winery

Arriving at the Antler Hill Village, visitors will see a tiny quaint village with restaurants, retail shops, the winery and tasting room. As one walks around the village, the atmosphere seems to say, “This is a special little village nestled in the mountains.”

Biltmore WineryA little before entering the Biltmore Winery tasting room, the most visited winery in the United States, visitors walk past an open air room which shows a large timeline denoting the history of Biltmore. A Biltmore guide is available to answer questions.

Biltmore WineryA little farther on, wine enthusiasts will arrive at the tasting room. Inside the winery has an array of gift items in addition to the numerous wines available. Visitors can browse a variety of gourmet foods including pretzel dip, blue cheese dip, olive oil, lemon wasabi sauce and pickled jalapenos. In another area free wine tastings are offered at one of several tasting counters that form peninsulas and islands. This tasting area can accommodate hundreds of people. A smaller area with stools at a counter as well as tables and chairs is set aside for a more intimate tasting of premium wines.

Vineyards

William A. V. Cecil, the grandson of Biltmore’s founder George W. Vanderbilt, conceived of the vineyard after visiting France. According to a display, “…we have a river, we have a chateau, we have the land, we have no vineyard. Every French chateau has a vineyard.”  William wanted to start a winery and vineyard to help the estate remain self-sustaining.
Sixty acres of vineyards were planted on the Biltmore Estate in 1971. Today the vineyards occupy 94 acres. Varieties include Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Chardonnay, Riesling and Viognier.

Biltmore WineryThe Winery

The winery is located in a dairy barn built between 1898 and 1902. The dairy barn was converted to a winery in 1985. Perhaps the most noted view of the winery is a steeple with a weather vane and clock. Inside the winery, large stainless steel tanks stand at attention. Another area of the winery has numerous oak barrels stacked. The winery produces about 200,000 cases of wine. Two winemakers are responsible for the wines. They use French, American and Hungarian oak barrels.

Biltmore WinerySparkling Wine

We had the premium wine tasting that began with a Chateau Reserve Blanc de Blancs. This sparkling wine was produced with Chardonnay grapes from the Biltmore vineyards. The straw colored wine offered apple nuances on the taste. The finish was crisp and cleansing. The sparkling wine was produced in the Méthode Champnoise style.

White Wines

Reserve Chardonnay 2011, also a straw color, had an aroma of caramel and pear. The taste was velvety with hints of butter and apple. The finish was crisp with fruit yielding to butter and caramel. Reserve Riesling 2011 was a pale golden color. The wine offered notes of honeysuckle and rose petals and a touch of citrus. The finish was smooth with fruit nuances.  Reserve Viognier was a light yellow. The wine had hints of perfume on the aroma. The smooth taste had fruit nuances. The finish was crisp and lingered.

Red Wines

Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2011 was a ruby color with dark fruit notes on the aroma. The taste had nuances of dark fruit and leather. The fruity finish had bold tannins. Reserve Passport 2010 was produced with Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot.  The fruit was sourced from California’s Sonoma County. The dark ruby wine offered notes of dark fruits and tobacco. The finish had bold tannins with fruit yielding to leather.

Biltmore WinerySpecial Wines

Christmas at Biltmore Rose has a special label that is selected by a contest for guests. The label must show the house and have something to do with Christmas. This wine was a blend of Pinot Gris, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Muscat Canelli and Gewürztraminer.  The wine was an orange-pink color.  The aroma and taste reminded one of a fruit salad mix with floral notes. The wine was slightly sweet and had a hint of tannins.

Complete a visit to the Biltmore Estate with a visit and wine tasting at the Biltmore Winery. Visitors should plan to spend a day visiting the Biltmore Estate, Antler Hill Village, the winery and a stop at one of the restaurants. The estate is a very large property and one needs transportation from the front gate to the estate home to Antler Village and then the exit.

Biltmore Winery
1 North Pack Square
Ashville, North Carolina 28801

 

Article written in December 2012


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