Going from milk to wine... the classic coming of age story:
|Biltmore Ice Cream still sold at Antler Hill Village|
When Vanderbilt launched Biltmore Dairy Farms, he intended it to be an internal operation for his estate only with surplus milk being donated to the Asheville area hospitals. However, with the Vanderbilt knack for making money, he expanded the company into home delivery. The dairy thrived and Biltmore cattle were awarded blue ribbons at national Jersey Shows numerous times. As the Farm grew, the Biltmore Dairy Truck was a regular sight around North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Georgia and Virginia.
Due to growth of the SUPERMARKET, Biltmore Farms sold the main bulk of their over 1000 head of Jersey cows to Pet Milk, Inc. in 1985. The family farm still maintains a herd of Jersey cattle in Mills River, North Carolina with bloodlines tracing back to the original nineteenth-century cows purchased by George Vanderbilt.
Thus, our tour guide retold the history of the most visited winery in America. The Vanderbilts and prize cows. Who knew?
|The Heart of Antler Hill Village|
|Former milking room; now wine vat room|
Hiring Phillippe Jourdain as winemaker in 1977, Cecil brought the sophistication and experience of six generations of winemaking from Provence, France. Although, before Prohibition, North Carolina had the most vineyards in North America, the first wines from Biltmore paled in comparison to California wines. Jourdain replanted with all french vines and plugged onward.
Today, winemakers, Bernard Delille and Sharon Fenchak use 15% Biltmore grown grapes and 85% other American regional grapes to produce over 140,000 cases of wine each year selling approximately 55,000 cases at the winery to its one million visitors each year. Whoa! That's a lot of wine! Again, who knew?
After our complete and thorough history lesson, we arrived at the good part...
|Greg enjoying a taste of the Biltmore Zinfandel|
|All that history made Emma thirsty!|
Greg preferred the zinfandel. I favored the pinot noir. Wyatt and Emma deemed the grape juice the best they had ever tasted. Anabel walked Ginger through the Antler HIll Village having no interest in the winery. What a pleasant way to spend an afternoon.
George H. V. Cecil accomplished his goal of a self-sustaining winery. All the people enjoying the free tastings purchased at least one bottle ($10-$20 each) of wine. We purchased eight with Christmas gifts in mind. Greg and I both love giving each other wine for Christmas!