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Weekly Scoop (December 30-January 5) - The Urban Gastronome indulges in Biltmore Wines 🍷 Plus lots to do this week!

The Urban Gastronome Indulges in Biltmore Wines


Fruits of the largest privately-owned home in America

Photos by The Urban Gastronome

Asheville’s beverage industry is quite delicious, whether it contains alcohol or not. For me, I have a great interest in the intricacies and processes of their craft. Today we are going to learn some history, meet some creative people and dive into the barrels at Biltmore Winery where I had an afternoon of touring, learning, and of course, tasting. Most importantly, I’ll discuss my experience with this passionate group of individuals. It was my honor to see the inner workings of how they put such deliciousness in a bottle.

Spencer was my first guide of the day, and his depth of knowledge surrounding Biltmore Estate Winery is massive. Masterfully narrating, he took me back in time to learn the rich history while exposing me to each phase of the process. Ironically enough the first vines to be planted was my birth year of 1971. One would think with the financial backing and name recognition it would be an easy industry for the Vanderbilt’s to transition into. However, those at Biltmore even stated, “Early bottles were pretty, but you didn’t want to drink it.” So William Cecil traveled to France and contracted the services of sixth-generation wine master Philippe Jourdain. He would then become Biltmore's first winemaker. It wasn't until 1983 that the Biltmore Estate Wine Company formed. Even then it took two years before the eyes of the public walked through their doors. The dairy industry, through modernized manufacturing and distribution methods, made the barns at the Biltmore Estate obsolete. So they were transformed into what we know and love today: a production facility, tasting room, and wine bar among several other things.

North Carolina doesn’t have the best environment for winemaking. Temperatures vary, which makes it challenging to sustain the quality and consistency, but you would never know it. In fact, the freeze of 1985 destroyed 100 of some 150 vines, literally wiping out two-thirds of their Carolina grape crop. Through years of trial and tribulation and that endearing quality of perseverance, Biltmore Wines is now producing 175 thousand cases of wine each year. The state of Florida is the bulk of their distribution outside of North Carolina. Sales and production would be higher if it weren't for 11 states that do not allow shipping. This is 2020, right? Tourism to the Estate is where they gain most of their exposure, and sales are approximately a 60/40 split with the latter being sold on-premise. There are currently 56 acres of vines growing and they produce an average of 177 tons of grapes. This blew my mind. 177 tons! I did not realize it took 7 years after the planting of these vines before you can really begin using them for wine. 

Additionally, Biltmore Wines conducts tours and pairings. This for me was the highlight of my visit. Wine and cheese hour, chocolate pairings, and public and private tours range in price. As mentioned before, I attended the behind the scenes tour and the pairing consisted of French Broad Chocolate with four selections of wine. Personally, I enjoy red over white. I revel in heavy-bodied wines with hints of blackberry, black pepper, charcoal and smoke; flavors that linger in your mouth, and it was my lucky day. Antler Hill was one of the selections on the table, and it just happened to be a favorite of mine. The grapes are from Napa Valley. Yes, Napa Valley; as I stated before North Carolina climate opportunities make it challenging to sustain 100% of wine production. Biltmore Estate Winery’s relationship with California vineyards affords access to crucial ingredients when producing a variety of wines. This Cabernet Sauvignon is simply delish! Aged for 24 months in French and American Oak casks, its bold blackberry and currant flavors rest beautifully in your mouth, while the finish leaves you savoring each swallow. 

There is so much that encompasses wine. Hats off to all the winemakers, connoisseurs, and sommeliers! Gabrielle, who led me through the pairing, taught me a lot. She stated I had good habits due to constantly swirling of my wine glass during conversation (for me it was a nervous tick, but we won’t tell her).

Most interesting enough is their Wine Clubs. There are no membership fees to join; simply choose from the four club options: red, white, mixed and sweet. You will have four shipments a year consisting of 3 wines (12 bottles annually), or you can opt to pick them up at the Biltmore Wine Shop. Zero dollars for your first order, and then a flat rate shipping of fifteen dollars thereafter. These bottles are hand-selected by the winemakers based on the category you choose from. Such a nice surprise to come home to each quarter! Visit the Vanderbilt Wine Club's website for more info on club pricing and perks.

To learn more about their wines, visit the winery and have a tasting; or better yet attend one of the tours. Or you can keep an eye out for one of my next events where I will be introducing pairing opportunities with Biltmore Winery at some of my favorite haunts in Asheville. These intimate and flavorful occasions will be carefully planned, so you will not want to miss out!

Until we drink again, Cheers!
Be sure to check out Biltmore Wine’s profile on Dig Local for more info and events, and don’t forget to keep an eye on The Urban Gastronome to see where he’ll show up next!

Below you will find one locally curated Scoop chosen for each day this week — but make sure to check out all the Scoops this week on our Dig Local Scoop Calendar.

Monday, December 30

at Asheville Retrocade
Grab your magical girl wand, jump into your giant robot, and enjoy an all-day anime fest at the Retrocade complete with anime videos, music and $3 off day passes for cosplayers!
More details.
More to do Monday
Tuesday, December 31
New Years Eve!
With so many swingin' parties going on in Asheville for NYE, we couldn't pick just one! Here's a comprehensive list for all of the festivities that will be ringing in 2020. Go to one, or go to a few!

- New Years Eve at Twisted Laurel Daphne Downtown 
- Roaring Twenties 1920's NYE Party at Grove Arcade
- Capella on Cloud 9's New Years Eve Celebration
- New Years Eve at Isis Music Hall with Ellis Dyson and The Shambles
- New Years Eve Dinner at The Golden Fleece
- New Years Eve Celebration as Isa's French Bistro
- Your Mama's Big Fat Booty Band NYE at Salvage Station
- NYE at Ambrose West: The Broadcast plus Downtown Abbey & The Echoes
- NYE Masquerade Party at Storm Rhum Bar
- New Years Eve Decade Party at Burntshirt Vineyards
- Pack's Tavern Countdown to 2020
- NYE Party with Royal Hounds at Jack of the Wood
- Rustic Grape's NYE: A Sparkling Sweet Date Night
- Smash in the New Year at Asheville Retrocade
- New Years Eve with Murder By Death at The Grey Eagle
- Ringin' in 2020 with DJ Marley Carroll at The One Stop
- NYE Celebration with G.A.M.E. at Pisgah Brewing
- NYE with DJ Malinalli at Urban Orchard Cider Company
- New Years Eve Cosmic Bowling Party at Skylanes
More to do Tuesday

Wednesday, January 1

2020 Hangover Party with The Lazybirds
at Pisgah Brewing
After all of those NYE shenanigans, you probably need a beer. The Lazybirds take the taproom stage at 3pm to help usher in the New Year, and Mountain View BBQ & Deli will be on-site serving a traditional New Year’s Day menu.
More details.

More to do Wednesday

Thursday, January 2

Thirsty Thursday
at The Cantina Biltmore

The weekend is almost here! Celebrate early and get $1 off ALL local drafts and Mexican bottled beers.
More details.

More to do Thursday

Friday, January 3

Life Like Water Album Release Show
at The Grey Eagle

A musical response to a life in transition, Life Like Water celebrates their hometown album release! Seated show, all ages. Doors open at 7pm, show begins at 8pm.
Tickets and more details.
More to do Friday

Saturday, January 4

The Lost Chord: A Tribute to the Moody Blues
at Ambrose West
If you're looking for some Saturday night tunes, be sure to check out The Lost Chord, an Asheville-based Moody Blues tribute band. Their goal is to reproduce the classic, cosmic sound of the legendary band’s original studio recordings in a live setting. Doors 6pm, show 7pm.
Tickets and more details.
More to do Saturday

Sunday, January 5

7 Week Chakra Series
at Inspired Change Yoga
Get your zen on with a 7 week chakra series that focuses on balancing these spiraling vortices of energy. Learning specific yoga postures, breathing and meditation techniques, chants, talismans, guided imagery and spontaneous drawing for clearing each chakra.
More details.
More to do Sunday
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