Picture, if you will, visiting the nation’s largest home, which also happens to have on its grounds the nation’s most visited winery. Any guesses as to its location? …We may have given it away…
It might surprise you that this grand destination is nestled in North Carolina’s Smoky Mountains. It’s the Biltmore, where the vision of George W. Vanderbilt has come to life in a truly breathtaking way. The 250-room French Renaissance Richard Morris designed château exhibits the Vanderbilt family’s original collection of furnishings, art, and antiques with acres of formal gardens, outdoor activities, shopping, dining… and of course, their more than 30-year-old winery, housed in a converted dairy barn.
Though many of their grapes come from partners in California, the estate does dedicate nearly 100 acres for their own grape production (now in dormancy for winter). Biltmore ranks in the top 1% of the U.S. wine business and produces more than 170,000 cases of wine annually. Here are some notes we took in their gargantuan tasting room, where we tried nearly 35 wines. That’s a lot of juice – even for us!
One fun comparison is between the Biltmore Chateau Reserve Blanc de Blancs 2010 and the Biltmore Estate Blanc de Blancs. Interesting enough, they are both Methode Champenoise, but the Reserve incorporates some of those previously mentioned Biltmore grapes. They both had great balance, acidity, and citrus; however the Reserve lost its effervescence unbelievably quickly, which we could only assume may be a result of the North Carolina grapes.
Among the whites, our favorites were the Biltmore Chardonnay Sur Lies, with notes of pineapple, peach, and butter. Add some bubbles, and you truly do have a satisfying sparkling. We also liked the Biltmore Limited Release Pinot Grigio with a nostalgic honeysuckle aroma and substantial lingering citrus finish.
We also compared the Biltmore Merlot and the Biltmore Limited Release Merlot. The Biltmore Merlot had a delightfully complex nose, with touches of vanilla, dried fruit, wood, and wet leather. The Biltmore Limited Release Merlot was a bit milder in bouquet; however the experience on the tongue was nothing if not bold with spicy green pepper and smoke in the forefront. The Biltmore Merlot seemed a bit thinner in body, less extracted, and fruitier in flavor. We found throughout the catalog of Biltmore reds was a spicy theme, so our Zin lovers out there can’t go wrong.
All of their wines are available on-site at the Biltmore Winery, but they can also be purchased in the online store or by calling 800-411-3812. You can also see a list of lcoal retailers or view a list of states they can ship to.
All in all the visit to Biltmore was the pennacle of luxury, service, and great fun!
All photographs of the Biltmore Estate are the property of the owners of the estate. All rights reserved.