Biltmore Estate, The Jewel of Asheville, NC

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    Asheville's Finest Home

    © Biltmore Estate.

    Constructed at the end of 19th century in the style of a French Renaissance chateau, Biltmore Estate is America's largest private home. It is located in Asheville, North Carolina, near the Blue Ridge Mountains.

    Building Biltmore Estate was the vision of George Vanderbilt, an heir to the Vanderbilt fortune. Construction began in 1889 and the house opened in 1895 on Christmas day.

    The four-story country house spans 4 acres, covering 175,000 square feet. The estate encompasses 125,000 acres in total.

    Today Biltmore Estate is a faithfully preserved National Historic Landmark where the public is welcome 365 days a year.

    Tickets for admission Biltmore Estate start at $39 per adult (2005 price) and include entry to Biltmore House, Biltmore Gardens, Biltmore Winery, and Biltmore Farm Village.

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  • 02 of 10

    Meals and Celebrations in the Banquet Hall at Biltmore Mansion

    © Biltmore Estate.

    The massive Banquet Hall is one of the most impressive spaces in the opulent 250-room Biltmore Mansion. It is 72 feet long, 42 feet wide, and its walls stretch up 70 feet tall.

    Back in the day, people ate differently and many servants were required to cook, set up the table, serve the food, and pour the wine. Without distractions such as television or movies, a meal became the main event in a night, and it often lasted for hours, with many courses provided.

    Delicacies such as Oysters Rockefeller, which came into favor at the turn of the century, and vichyssoise would impress diners. Meat was no doubt served, with exotic elk, caribou, bear, moose cuts making their way onto the menu.

    George Vanderbilt collected more than beautiful objects; he also collected fine wines during his travels, that he would then serve to his guests. (It wasn't till nearly a century later that Biltmore Estate, after planting vineyards, would begin to produce and offer its own wines.) Keep in mind that with the passage of the Eighteenth Amendment (Prohibition) in January 1919, many tables went dry -- although private homes were rarely prosecuted for serving the fruit of the vine.

    Wall decorations in the Banquet Hall at Biltmore Mansion include priceless Flemish tapestries from the 16th century. The room also features a triple fireplace and an organ loft. The oak dining table can expand to accommodate 64 guests, although no one has lived or dined in Biltmore Mansion since the 1950s.

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    Library at Biltmore House

    (c) Biltmore Estate.
    The two-tier, walnut-paneled library at Biltmore House contains some 10,000 volumes and a fireplace surrounded by a carved, black-marble mantel. On the second floor of the library, there is a secret door that George Vanderbilt used to come down directly from his bedroom to locate or return a book.
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    Mrs. Vanderbilt's Bedroom at Biltmore Estate

    (c) Biltmore Estate.

    Edith Dresser Vanderbilt, wife to George, slept in this gold-and-purple oval bedroom decorated in Louis XV style. The bed coverings, upholstery, and draperies are all made of cut velvet and silk.

    An oak sitting room separated Mrs. Vanderbilt's and Mr. Vanderbilt's bedrooms at Biltmore Estate.

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    Mr. Vanderbilt's Bedroom at Biltmore Estate

    (c) Biltmore Estate.

    George Vanderbilt traveled the world, buying furnishings and treasures from England, Italy, France, and Asia to decorate Biltmore Estate. His bedroom contains heavy walnut chairs and a chaise in the grand Baroque style. Although the furniture mixes pieces from the 17th and 19th centures, the scarlet-and-cream palette anticipates Art Deco design.

    Biltmore Estate contains a total of 34 bedrooms.

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    Bathroom at Biltmore Mansion

    (c) Biltmore Estate.

    Only the best would satisfy Mr. Vanderbilt in his mansion. That extended to this bathroom, which holds a large, marble, claw-footed tub big enough for two. There are 43 bathrooms total in Biltmore Mansion.

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  • 07 of 10

    Biltmore Estate Garden

    (c) Biltmore Estate.

    Frederick Law Olmstead, the renowned landscape designer known for his work in Central Park, was also responsible for designing the Biltmore Estate Gardens.

    Plantings at Biltmore Estate include the library terrace, the south terrace overlooking the Blue Ridge Mountains, an Italian garden with formal pools, a shrub garden, an English-style walled garden (pictured), a rose garden with heritage roses, a conservatory that holds exotic species, a cool house, a hot house, an azalea garden, a bass pond, and a spring garden.

    A number of garden trails offer lovely views and provide shelter to various species of birds. Mid-April, daffodils, tulips and other bulbs are likely to be in full bloom. From late May through October roses and other perennials are usually on display.

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    Inn on Biltmore Estates

    (c) Biltmore Estate.

    Some visitors to Biltmore Estate stay overnight at the Inn on Biltmore Estates. Views overlook the Biltmore mansion, and a mountaintop swimming pool is a good place to end a day of touring (unless it's commandeered by splashing children).

    The Inn on Biltmore Estates features a restaurant, lobby bar, and fitness center.

    On a visit we watched an outdoor wedding being set up outdoors on a grassy meadow, the turrets of Biltmore Mansion visible in the distance.

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  • 09 of 10

    Biltmore Inn Lodging

    (c) Biltmore Estate.

    Lodging at the Inn at Biltmore Estates consists of standard guest rooms and suites. Furnishings and décor borrow design elements from English and French manor houses.

    Robes, Penhaglion amenities, Web TV, room service, and a free shuttle to Biltmore House, Biltmore Garden, and Biltmore Winery make the Inn at Biltmore Estates a convenient place to stay for a night.

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  • 10 of 10

    Biltmore Estate Winery

    (c) Biltmore Estate.

    Biltmore Estate Winery, the most-visited winery in America, produces 75,000 cases of wine each year from its 70 acres of vineyards. The harvest takes place between mid-August and October.

    Educational displays and short videos acquaint visitors with the winemaking process and the Biltmore Winery story. Visitors have access to Biltmore Estate Winery's tasting and bottling rooms.

    In addition to reds, whites, and rosés, Biltmore Estate Winery produces three sparkling Méthode Champenoise wines.

    Biltmore Estate Wines are sold on the estate and also are available online for residents of certain states.

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