When George Washington Vanderbilt constructed his magnificanct estate in 1895, he had quite a vision in mind. Besides a vacation home, he was looking to stimulate the economy of the Pisgah Forest area and the people who lived there. He envisioned a self-sufficient estate; one that could stand on its own. While that vision was not totally realized in his lifetime, 100 plus years later, I would say that his goal was reached.
|Our Bradley and his little friend, Brodie|
We stayed at the Doubletree hotel next to the Biltmore house when we visited just before Christmas. It is a repurposed building that once housed the Dairy that was run by the grandson’s of Mr. Vanderbilt. We had a great time exploring the hotel and discovering some of the history of the dairy.
And a little trivia for you, did you know that the Vanderbilt’s had an award winning group of dairy cows? They travelled all over the country entering them in fairs and competitions.
How ordinary is that? Farmers do this all the time even now.
When the dairy was bought out, Vanderbilt’s ancestors took on another venture, this time in the form of a winery. The old dairy barn was converted into a winery during the 1980’s and now is home to many award winning wines.
We enjoyed a grand tour of the winery and then the adults indulged in a little wine tasting. While not all of the grapes used in making Biltmore wines are grown on the estate, the grapes used are American grown then pressed, aged and bottled on location.
Our tour guide was quite informative and very personable when on our tour. She even took time to answer my 11-year-old son’s questions. He was very fascinated with the whole wine making process. Bradley can still quote the 5 S’s of wine tasting (although he has only tried this with red grape juice!): See, Swirl, Smell, Sip and Savor.
Maybe when he is 21….
|I loved the little details scattered about during our winery tour.|
The kids didn’t go into the wine tasting room or participate in the tasting, but instead explored nearby Antler Hill Village. Audley on the other hand enjoyed comparing the different flavors of reds based on the grape.
Biltmore wines are not the most expensive on the market, but I do find them quite enjoyable. This year’s Christmas vintage was really quite wonderful.
The Biltmore is also home to several wonderful restaurants. We dined at the Stable Cafe for lunch on Saturday afternoon and everyone of us were more than thrilled with our fare! The restaurants on the estate all use seasonal and fresh ingredients in their food as well as local grown product. Most all of the meat is still raised on the estate and gardens (cold-frames in the winter) are maintained to help keep the freshest of ingredients available. The Stable Cafe is of course located in the old stables right next to the house.
I love the whole atmosphere of the Stable Cafe. From the tables nestled in stalls (the rings where horses were tethered still remain) to actually watching the chef and staff prepare our meals it was all so lovely and delicious!
|My little foodies anxious waiting on lunch!|
|Our friends, mother and daughter, Jamie & Amy|
|I just love the old horse stalls!|
And the food?
Absolutely fantastic! Check out a few of our dishes….
|Roast Chicken and squash medley|
|Chicken Pot Pie|
|Audley’s meatloaf dinner|
|Southern Cobb Salad …with maple-glazed bacon, cheddar cheese, tomato, chicken, deviled eggs with dill & yes, that is fried okra!|
|Fresh from the estate, Angus burger|
|Crab Cakes … really fabulous!|
And for desert, a Tiffany glass inspired chocolate cake ….
We visited one more restaurant on the estate which I will share later this weekend, along with a recipe for a delicious homemade pizza crust.
If you have never had the opportunity to visit the Biltmore House in North Carolina, add it to your bucket list. There is something for everyone in your family no matter what their age, and I promise, you won’t be disappointed.