Biltmore in Asheville, North Carolina, whose French-style château home and surrounding landscaping were designed by architect Richard Morris Hunt and landscaper Frederick Law Olmsted, has been a leader in hospitality and sustainable, field-to-table practices since the estate’s inception in 1895. It continues to operate today as a family-owned, self-sustaining 8000-acre estate and National Historic Landmark. Once the home of Biltmore Dairy Farms, the former dairy was transformed into a winery, opening to the public in 1985. The 35th anniversary of the winery finds it ranked in the top 1% of wine businesses in the United States and the country’s most visited winery at around 600,000 visitors annually. The winery sources grapes from a number of states and appellations to make wines appealing to its large and varied customer base.
However, the estate also has its own small vineyard – originally planted in 1971 – located in valley of the nearby French Broad River. From this humble vineyard, the winery produces a small-lot cabernet franc that sells out quickly every year. A lower-alcohol beauty at 13%, the Biltmore® Reserve Cabernet Franc, North Carolina, shows a mélange of juicy blackberries, baking spices, and sweet vanilla on the palate. Its bright, food-friendly acidity and finely integrated tannins make it an ideal accompaniment to a variety of meats, such as braised beef, roasted pork loin, baked poultry, and venison stew. For those who do not eat meat, pair this wine with mushroom, bean, or lentil dishes. The cabernet franc is also priced attractively for a single-vineyard, limited-release of this caliber, with a suggested retail of $35. Recent awards include a score of 93 points in the Critics Challenge International Wine Competition and Gold at the North Carolina State Fair.