I’m thankful to live in a central location in North Carolina. We’re close to the beach and close to the mountains. Up in the mountains, there is this “little” place called Biltmore located in Asheville, NC. You may have heard of it.
Ok, so maybe it’s the largest home in America. The famous estate is 8,000 acres and was home to the Vanderbilt’s. It includes not only the house, but the beautiful gardens, award-winning restaurants, Inn on Biltmore Estate and Biltmore Winery.
The Winery was established in 1971, and opened its doors to the public in 1985. The operation was run in the original barn used by Biltmore Dairy.
One of the perks of my job is being able to experience wineries like this one behind the scenes. I manage the wine club newsletter at Harris Teeter and in partnership with Biltmore Winery, we hosted the first ever “Day at Biltmore” over the weekend. The weather was perfect and we couldn’t have asked for a better day.
The staff at Biltmore Winery treated us to three different seminars. A food and wine pairing seminar, a vine to wine tour and a production tour.
The first event of my day was the food and wine pairing seminar. We sampled the Spring Release, Sauvignon Blanc, Reserve NC Chardonnay, Reserve Russian River Pinot Noir and the Reserve Dry Creek Cabernet Sauvignon. Biltmore sources grapes for the two red wines mentioned from California, but the others sampled were from the vineyards on the Estate.
For the Sauvignon Blanc, our presenter had us take a sip of the wine, which seemed high in acidity and was bitter. Then, we took a bite of the slice of lemon in front of us and another sip of the wine. The lemon took away the bitterness. Dishes with citrus in them, like lemon, help cut back on the bitterness of the wine.
Another pairing, and my favorite, was the Cab and dark chocolate. The chocolate we sampled was 72% chocolate. It’s best to pair a Cab with dark chocolate, not milk chocolate.
The chocolate was also good with the Spring Release. I liken this wine to a semi-sweet Riesling. You can pair with most dishes because it’s very mild.
The next tour I participated in was the Vine to Wine. On this tour, we got to travel to the vineyards on the property. Unfortunately, harvest doesn’t start until August so the vines were bare, but we had an up close and personal look at where the grapes are grown for several of the wines. Grapes grown at the Estate include Chardonnay, Riesling, Viognier, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. All grapes are handpicked by 60-70 workers.
The particular section of vineyard that we saw was overlooking the French Broad River. We were told that this river is the third oldest in the world. The water system helps because it contributes to the climate needed for growing the grapes. The river also attracts several of the craft breweries to Asheville, including Sierra Nevada and New Belgium, because water is important in the process of brewing beer.
My final stop of the day was the production facility. Since harvest isn’t for several months, the crush dock was quiet, but we got to see the machines that de-stem the grapes, along with the stainless steel tanks, oak barrels and bottling equipment. At the end, we did a side-by-side sampling of Syrah from the barrel and Syrah that had been bottled. The group was divided between liking what came from the barrel and liking what came from the bottle. I preferred the bottle all the way. I thought it had a much smoother finish.
All in all, we had a great day out at Biltmore. It was informational and fun at the same time, which always makes for a good way to learn. It also helps when you get to drink wine while learning 🙂
The comments and views expressed in this post and in my blog in general are my own personal opinions and not those of Harris Teeter.