ASHEVILLE NC – Biltmore Winery in North Carolina celebrates a milestone this year with its 30th anniversary. Since first opening its doors on May 11, 1985, Biltmore Winery has ascended to the unique position as America’s most visited winery and is widely regarded as one of the most prominent American wineries east of the Rockies. To commemorate the accomplishments of the past three decades, Biltmore will host celebratory anniversary activities on Saturday, May 16, including the release of a commemorative 30th anniversary wine – a full bodied red wine blend of Petite Sirah, Syrah and Zinfandel.
Fine wine: an essential ingredient of the Biltmore experience from the beginning
Wine has been an integral part of Biltmore’s history since the very beginning when George Vanderbilt founded his now iconic estate in the late 19th century. George enjoyed wine and he brought wine from his travels home to Asheville. Estate archives reveal that wine was part of the fabric of the Biltmore experience, playing a prominent role at grand celebrations as well as everyday meals. Vanderbilt’s legacy for gracious living extended to locally grown food as well. He created an extensive agricultural program on his estate and instilled in Biltmore a culture of self-sustainability.
While Mr. Vanderbilt introduced the pleasures of wine to Biltmore, it was not produced on the property until his grandson, William A.V. Cecil, had the vision and determination to take Biltmore’s agricultural tradition and re-imagine it as vineyards and a winery at Biltmore in the early 1970s. At the time, wine grape growing in North Carolina was almost unheard of given the area’s climate. Despite this, Mr. Cecil was determined to make Biltmore Winery a reality.
Pioneering a new winemaking approach in North Carolina
The first generation of winemaking at Biltmore was a decade of viticultural experimentation to determine how to grow grapes in our unique Western North Carolina climate. Along the way, Mr. Cecil sought out some of the best academic minds in viticulture, first in California and later in France. A milestone was achieved with the hiring of Phillipe Jourdain, a seasoned French winemaster. Together, Cecil and Jourdain pioneered the planting of vitis vinifera, the wine grape species of France and other European fine wine regions. The decision paid off!
In 1984, more than a decade after Biltmore’s initial wine trials, its first wines were bottled, the 1983 vintage Chateau Biltmore Merlot and Chateau Biltmore Cabernet Sauvignon. The winery officially opened its doors in May 1985 and the rest, as they say, is history.
A determination for excellence that spans three generations
Another French winemaker, Bernard Delille, joined the Biltmore team in 1986, bringing his considerable talents to bear on an increasingly diversified winemaking program. With Jourdain’s retirement, Delille assumed the mantle of winemaster in 1995, a position he has held for the past 20 years. As demand for Biltmore wines continued to climb, Delille added winemaker Sharon Fenchak to his team in 1999. Today, this dynamic duo have almost 40 years of collective Biltmore winemaking experience, a distinction few wineries can boast and one which translates into exceptional wine quality and a portfolio of more than 40 different wines. Given the consistently high consumer demand for Biltmore wines, their winemaking efforts have extended beyond North Carolina to include some other pre-eminent American winegrowing regions, notably California’s Sonoma County and Napa Valley. They also produce an everyday collection of wines bearing the American appellation as well as its hallmark sparkling wines from both North Carolina and California.
In its first 30 years, Biltmore Winery has grown into its own, now producing 150,000 cases annually – far exceeding Mr. Cecil’s original expectations – and winning over legions of loyal Biltmore wine drinkers along the way. Biltmore wines are now sold on the estate, online, and distributed via retailers regionally. With the volume of visitors (over 1 million per year) engaging, experimenting and tasting wine at this iconic estate, it is hard to ignore Biltmore’s impact on the North Carolina wine industry and on the general public’s appreciation of fine wine – now and into the future.
Biltmore Winery 30th Anniversary Events
Saturday, May 16, 2015
Winery Celebration Day Tastings
Included with estate admission; all-day event
Discover our different growing regions by visiting special tasting stations in Biltmore Winery featuring Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon and Sparkling.
Anniversary Wine Release
$15 per person; 5–6 p.m.
RSVP by calling 800-411-3812
Enjoy a first taste of our 30th Anniversary red wine & light bites at the Winery Clock Tower. Mingle with the winemakers & take home a complimentary 30th Anniversary wine glass. Tickets go on sale April 10.
Sip & Stroll
$29 per person; 12–4 p.m.
RSVP by calling 800-411-3812
Enjoy small plates paired with wine at three different estate restaurants: Bistro, Cedric’s, & Winery Champagne Cellar. Tickets go on sale April 10.
Village Green Celebration
Included with estate admission; 4–10 p.m.
Enjoy live music on the Village Green outside Biltmore Winery, plus grape stomps and more. At 8 p.m., enjoy complimentary Biltmore wine ice cream (must be 21). At 9 p.m., toast with a complimentary glass of sparkling wine followed by fireworks.
About Biltmore Wines
Located in Asheville, N.C., Biltmore was the vision of George W. Vanderbilt. Designed by Richard Morris Hunt, America’s largest home is a 250-room French Renaissance chateau, exhibiting the Vanderbilt family’s original collection of furnishings, art and antiques. Biltmore Estate encompasses more than 8,000 acres including renowned gardens designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, the father of American landscape architecture. Among the many attractions on the estate is the nation’s most visited winery, started in 1985 in a converted dairy barn. In keeping with the Vanderbilt tradition of entertaining in style and embodying the agricultural legacy of its founder, Biltmore produces award-winning wines using fruit harvested from its own vineyard as well as from partners in N.C. and other premium growing regions including California.
Biltmore ranks in the top 1% of the U.S. wine business and produces approximately 150,000 cases of wine annually. To learn more about Biltmore Wines and to access a regional wine-buying guide, please visit www.BiltmoreWines.com.