Welcome to a winery that not only understands their future audience, but also embraces it… The Biltmore.
I recently found it fascinating that another blogger took the time to gather opinions on whether or not children belong at a winery. (Remember, I’m a former director for the Androscoggin Girl Scout Day Camp in Sabattus, Maine… My position on children is that children belong in all aspects of life; because without them, there’s no future life.)
The blog was littered with “Yes, kids belong, ” and “No, get yourself a babysitter.” It was the usual.
- Some parents adore their children, and take their job of creating responsible, well-rounded adults seriously. (Yes)
- Some parents are perfectly happy to have someone else raise their children, delighting in their own pleasures without the annoyances of children. (No)
- Some haven’t had children, yet love them. (Yes)
- Others haven’t had them; and, if they ever see another one it’s too soon. (No)
There… a thousand words reduced to four obvious bullet points.
I just followed my daughter Katie’s family through a day at the Biltmore. Yes, we did go into the tasting room, but we also did so much more in that day.
The following images are not going to reflect what we saw inside the Biltmore House, because cameras are not allowed (for obvious reasons). Instead, the images are going to reflect what “else” a family does, besides enjoying the treasures within the Home.
If you don’t know, be advised… the Biltmore has many more resources than the average winery. I doubt that anyone could afford to build this kind of estate ever again, too, unless it would be a Saudi oil sheik. They’re off building islands in the sea, at the moment, so I don’t foresee them coming inland any time soon. (I may be wrong, but I think not.)
The Biltmore home, my focus this trip, is almost enough to overload the senses on the arts and humanities. Because George W. Vanderbilt (1862-1914) favored art over the family’s involvement with their shipping and railroad interests, he studied languages, architecture, and history. His liberal arts sensibilities led him to collect all that pleased him, beginning at the very young age of 27, placing his collections in what was his four-story pallacial, “country retreat.”
Remembering that I visited this house with grandsons (ages seven and four), it was a delight to point out art work by Monet, Renoir, John Singer Sargent, and Currier and Ives, for instance. The Chippendale Room is furnished in the style of 18th-century cabinetmaker Thomas Chippendale. The boys were fascinated. [It’s the way that life is presented to children that can hold their attention in what would appear to be adult interests. The trick, by the way, is to allow the child to lead the tour with their own questions, and the parents follow with the appropriate answers.]
The tour of the home offers a myriad of art pleasures, from the obvious oil on canvas originals, but it also hosts a four-story chandelier (weighing 1,700 pounds), a tapestry gallery, a chess set originally owned by Napoleon Bonaparte, a woodblock print over a mantel in the Music Room by Albrecht Durer, china by Milton and Spode, two oak billiard tables made in 1895 by the Brunswick-Balke-Collender Company… The list goes on and on, and it’s on you to make the journey into the Blue Ridge Mountains of Asheville, North Carolina, to discover the entire collection. You won’t be disappointed, either.
Honestly, as I walked through the entire home with my family, I could only wonder how fun it would be to write fiction about the time and the place; i.e., it’s a very inspiring journey, to say the least.
Before we enjoyed the tour of the home, we first all had ice cream cones… and, yes, it was ice cream to die for. After we toured the home, we went off to find the farm. This balanced our visit with something for the kids, too.
squishy grape stomp footprints being made
This was originally a working farm for the Vanderbilt family, and many aspects of that lifestyle still remaining in tact. The family enjoyed everything from horse husbandry to having their own dairy sources for milk and cream. The family also grew their own grapes, in order to produce their own wine.
Each visit to the Biltmore Estate for me delivers more joy, perhaps because George built more (pun intended)… Perhaps because George understood that the future is built within the present, sewing the seeds that would allow the Biltmore Estate and House to remain a family owned and operated property for over a century as a family attraction, not just a winery.
For me, the question is not, “Do children belong?”
My question is, “What do you provide for your future consumers’ delight?”