Touring the Biltmore * Part 2

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.

Touring the Biltmore

Since we will be living less than an hour away, Audley and I treated each other to annual passes to the Biltmore Estates in Asheville, NC for Christmas this year.   I first fell in love with this amazing castle when I was in college as we passed through while on chorus tour 20 years ago.  Audley and I have visited a couple of times throughout our marriage, and the weekend before Christmas we took off on a lovely family get-away with some of our  fabulous friends.


Although I am certain the Biltmore Estates are beautiful in any weather, we could not have asked for a more perfect weekend to make our visit.  The air was chilly (which just made it feel more like Christmas), but the sky was ever so beautiful and clear.
Looking towards the stables.
Taking six years to build, this majestic home, built by George Washington Vanderbilt and tucked in the mountains of North Carolina, has welcomed visitors for 117 years now.
From the very moment you drive through the gated entry, you are immediately transported to a time long forgotten.  I can only image the feeling guests of the Vanderbilt’s had when their carriages drove through this grand gateway and then travelled the three miles to the main house.


When Mr. Vanderbilt built this stately home, he did so with the desire to create a fabulous get-away for friends and vacation home for his own family.  He had a vision of creating a “farm” that was completely self-sufficient, one that would help the people of the mountains with jobs and resources for personal use as well.  Mr. Vanderbilt passed away before all of this was completely realized, but over the last 117 years his family has carried on his legacy making the dream a reality.

Now, the Biltmore is breathtaking anytime of year, but especially so at Christmas.  Of course you can’t take pictures inside the house, but everywhere else, photography is welcomed.  Here is a peak of the some of the beauty around the house.

  I have a 10-inch high concrete Georgia Bulldog that greets our guests when they arrive on our doorstep, but wouldn’t you just love to have majestic lions flanking your entryway to greet friends and family?
When George W. Vanderbilt had this home built, he didn’t skimp on the details.  I love all of the surprises found lurking in the architecture as he incorporated a little French country (many of the house features) and a little Italian Renaissance (with the trim and details). George W. was a very studious and well-traveled man who very much used what he had learned when he planned this beauty.









Now housing restaurants and shops, this is the roofline of the old stables.

No detail was spared in the building of this beauty.  And if just the architectural details around the stables and front of the house aren’t enough, the details and view from the terrace in the back of the house are stunning!

Walking out onto the terrace 



Entry to the terrace


When the house was completed in 1895 was it wired for electric lighting, this included the porch areas which showcased beautiful lamps.


I loved all the expressions found on the gargoyles that flanked the windows.


Window that looks into the library; 10,000 plus books are shelved there!
Seriously, check out the detail from the rain spout!


Mrs. Vanderbilt’s bedroom was located in this rounded area.


My girls had a good time posing for the camera.  A lovely setting for sure!



And the view from the terrace?  Oh my, just breathtaking!


I think the things that captured my attention more than any around the house were the little details.  From the doorbell to a bust of Mr. Vanderbilt you find elements that homes today would never incorporate.

A fresh flower Arrangement on the front “porch” entryway…. 95% of the floral arrangements (and most all of the garlands and wreaths) are fresh year round.  


Ceiling in the entryway.


The Christmas decorations were simple, and in flavor of the period. I was so inspired!  Audley found it quite comical that I was jotting down notes as we toured the house.


Exiting the house.


In the front entrance.
I think one of the the best parts of our trip was that the kiddos enjoyed the entire experience as much as the adults!  They were completely in awe of this grand old lady and all of her treasures.



There is so much more to the Biltmore Estates than the house, but too much for one post.  We enjoyed   fabulous food as well as experiencing first-hand a bit of George Vanderbilt’s dream of self-sufficiency in the winery on the estate.  I’ll share a bit later.