I’ve always loved Biltmore. I’m not even sure why. Maybe it is because that it was the first stop on the first trip my girlfriend and I ever took together. Considering she is now my wife, obviously it ended up being a good trip. On our next visit to the estate, we did a wine tasting at the Biltmore winery. Afterwards, at dinner in the restaurant next to the winery, I ordered a bottle of wine at dinner with our meal. To my recollection it was the first time I had EVER ordered a bottle of wine at a restaurant. Over the years my palate has matured and I can no longer drink Biltmore wines, but I can honestly say that my love of wine started on that night. (I’ll leave the story about being so drunk that we couldn’t find our way off the Estate for another time).
Ultimately, I think I love Biltmore because it is so different from anything I ever experienced before. I’ve lived all my life in this largely rural state. Biltmore Estate was something that shouldn’t even be here. But it is.
With the weather in Blowing Rock foggy, wet and nasty, the Missus and I decided to drive down to Asheville and spend the day at Biltmore. As the fog cleared north of Lenoir, we picked up I-40 near Morganton and headed west towards Asheville. Although peak “leaf season” was a few weeks ago, I was amazed by the vibrant colors still on the trees. No matter what we found at the Estate, the drive to Asheville was worth the trip for us.
While the weather in Asheville was cloudy, there wasn’t the fog and rain we left behind us in Blowing Rock. Occasionally the sun broke through the clouds, illuminating nearby mountains with sunlight, making the red and burnt oranges of the trees even more colorful and alive.
Although we don’t always tour the house when we come to the Estate, today we decided to walk through it. We knew it had just been decorated for the holidays a few days before. While I like to visit Biltmore at any time of year, Christmas is its time to shine. A huge live tree is brought in and decorated in the main banquet hall every year, and this tree was set up only two days before. The fresh smell of pine permeated the huge dining room, a promise of the holiday season to come. While I normally abhor Christmas decorations this early in November, I make an exception for Biltmore. Christmas in this house is truly special. They could decorate for Christmas in July and I think I would be OK with it.
After a quick tour of the house, we headed over to Antler Village for a nice lunch at the Bistro (site of too much wine many years ago!). Then we did what is quickly becoming my favorite thing to do at Biltmore: we went for a long walk. The grounds are always well maintained, but in the Fall the fallow fields, meadows and trees take on a beauty all their own. As we walked along the paths of the Estate, we passed fellow guests, enjoying the magnificent scenery and beautiful warm autumn afternoon.
After a brisk walk, the Missus and I climbed back into the car and headed home. Scenic drive, beautiful house decorated for the holidays, nice lunch, great walk on a warm Fall day. If it wasn’t perfection, it was close.
Maybe THAT’S why Biltmore is my favorite place to visit in North Carolina.