Summer is coming to an end, and that means the wine harvest is approaching. Late summer and early autumn are beautiful times to visit Asheville's Biltmore Estate, and guests who visit this historic home can visit the Biltmore Winery for a free tour and tasting of award-winning wines. Plan your visit during the month of September, and you can participate in a range of N.C. Wine Month events. Biltmore Winery Gardens — Photo courtesy of Biltmore
The 250-room chateau-style Biltmore House – the largest privately owned home in the Untied States – was completed in 1895 and served as a summer escape for the Vanderbilt family. Almost 100 years later, in 1985, George Washington Vanderbilt's grandson and great-grandson opened the Biltmore Winery in the building that once served as the estate's dairy. George Vanderbilt kept an extensive collection of vintages in his Biltmore wine cellar, so only seems fitting that the estate would one day house a winery of its own. Pinot Noir — Photo courtesy of Biltmore
Even before the winery opened to the public, Vanderbilt's grandson William A.V. Cecil planted the first grape vines just outside the house. After a disastrous first bottling, Mr. Cecil decided to bring in an expert winemaker who helped set up the winery as it is today. Cabernet sauvignon, Cabernet franc and Merlot red varietals, and Riesling, chardonnay and viognier white varietals are currently grown in the estate vineyards, with other grapes brought in from vineyards across the country.Bottling wine — Photo courtesy of Biltmore
Biltmore Winery's two winemakers bottle an impressive collection of vintages covered the spectrum from light and sweet Rieslings to robust, spicy reds. Rosés and sparkling wines make an appearance on the menu as well. Complimentary wine tours walk you through Vanderbilt's historic wine cellars, educate you on the history and science of wine making and end in the elegant tasting room where you can sample some of Biltmore Winery's creations.Take a free tour — Photo courtesy of Biltmore
If your thirst still needs quenching, the Wine Bar pours the winery's reserve and sparkling wines, which you can enjoy alongside a cheese platter or fare purchased from the wine store. Pick up a few of your favorite bottles to enjoy back at home while you're at it. Specialty tours, such as a red wine and chocolate seminar or a special sparkling wine tour, take place daily if you have a specific wine interest.