This impressive property features what is the largest still privately owned family home in the United States of America – the mansion is over 178,000 square feet featuring 250 rooms. It was built between 1889 and 1895 by businessman and art collector George Vanderbilt (part of the banking and steamship family). More then 1,000 laborers were hired to complete this uniquely impressive home – that somewhat resembles a French chateau. Vanderbuilt acquired 125,000 acres of land – including numerous forest land which was the first professionally managed forest in the country and the first school of forestry (Biltmore School of Forestry). Today the estate is around 8,000 acres.
Very popular with visitors, a number of tour options are offered including a self guided exterior tour ticket or a separate ticket which includes a self-guided tour of much of the interior. Allow at least several hours here to walk the grounds (laid out by Frederick Law Olmsted who worked on New York’s Central Park and the Capitol Building in Washington DC), to see the interior and visit what is billed as “America’s most visited winery”, the nearby Biltmore Estate Winery located in the Antler Village (food, accommodation and shopping). The winery is located about 5 miles from the Biltmore home.
Grapes were first planted on the estate in 1971 by George Vanderbilt’s grandson William A.V. Cecil. After years of experimentation it was determined that the following varieties do well in this part of the country: Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Merlot, Riesling, and Viognier. Besides wines made from grapes growing on the property – they also work with growers in other states including on the west coast. The first vintage was in 1983 and the winery opened to the public in 1985 – today production is around 150,000 cases per year. Estate tickets also include admission to the winery and the winery village.
The property is huge and trolleys are used to bring visitors from various parking lots to the actual home. Those just visiting the grounds and exterior can park in one of the parking lots within a short waking distance of the mansion. Those with a ticket to take the interior self-guided tour will typically park further away and take one of the often departing trolleys.
Two places to stay on the estate are The Inn on Biltmore Estate and The Village Hotel.
For more information and or to purchase an admission ticket, visit: www.biltmore.com