The Illuminating Lens

Biltmore Estate – Asheville, North Carolina – Part 3 – 2021

Several of our group had never been to Asheville’s main claim to fame and so we got up early to make a day-long visit to…

the Biltmore Estate and Antler Hill Village & Winery.

Some Info from Wikipedia

Biltmore Estate is a historic house museum and tourist attraction in Asheville, North Carolina. Biltmore House, the main residence, is a Châteauesque-style mansion built for George Washington Vanderbilt II between 1889 and 1895 and is the largest privately-owned house in the United States, at 178,926 sq ft (16,622.8 m2) of floor space (135,280 square feet of living area). Still owned by George Vanderbilt’s descendants, it remains one of the most prominent examples of Gilded Age mansions.

Our Visit

We arrived just as they were opening. At the admissions building, we purchased our entrance tickets and made reservations for the house tour, rooftop tour, and free wine tasting. Our other objective was to get to the huge gardens in addition to the sights in and around the house.

I decided to load myself down and carry all three cameras! I had the Nikon D850 with my Nikon 105mm lens, the Nikon Z7 with the 24-70mm lens, and the Nikon Z6 (IR Converted) with the 16-35mm lens. Yes, I was exhausted by the end of the day… but it was worth it!

We walked from the designated parking lot (there is a bus) to the front of the amazing house where we awaited our appointment time for the rooftop tour. The walkway was shaded by tulip trees.

This is a guided tour by one of the very knowledgeable docents. She took us through some of the areas we would see later on the self-guided house tour but she also took us to some special spots and gave us some great information even on some of the small details of the estate.

Once inside, she took us up the beautiful spiral staircase to the upper floors.

She took us to the estate model room that was created by the architect.

Estate Model – Rear View

From there we went through a very small door and found ourselves out on the roof!

I was able to get some great images from this high vantage point.

There were some details up there that were impossible to see from the ground.

This tour is very much worth the time and money!

As we started back down, the docent took us through the attic and then to a balcony where guests would have enjoyed the morning light and some of the many carved finials around the estate.

We finished up this tour and walked back out to the parking lot as we had to drive to Antler Hill Village and Winery. The road took us on a winding path through the deerpark and surrounding fields. Antler Hill Village is a collection of shops, restaurants, hotel, and winery. We decided it was time for lunch so we checked out what was available. In May of 2021, we were just starting to see things opening up again so the village still had limited openings at their restaurants. We found that Village Social was open, so headed there.

I am so glad we tried this eatery as the food, though not fancy, was excellent. I had a Lox and Bagel sandwich that was soo good! My friends also all had excellent lunch dishes.

We had a 1 PM appointment at the Antler Hill Winery so we wrapped up lunch and walked around the corner to the Winery entrance. Across from the entrance was a large lawn surrounded by gardens. I had to take some flower images!

The entrance to the winery takes you into the wine cellar so I enjoyed the coolness and got to make a few images along the way.

The passage in the wine cellar – Multiple Exposure – iPhone 12 Max Pro – Avg Cam Pro app

Once up in the winery we were treated to our choice of 5 of 12 wines they were offering that day!

After the wine tasting, it was time to head back to the estate for our tour of the mansion.

This tour is self-guided or you can get an audio tour. We had learned a lot from the docent earlier so we chose to read and see with our eyes and our cameras!

We made our way along the guide ropes and signs, going up and down multiple staircases.

The Vanderbilts and their guests certainly lived well. They had a lot of “modern” conveniences like electricity and inside toilets which were quite unusual for the time in what was considered the middle of nowhere!

They even had some indoor sports!

Bowling Lanes
Indoor Pool

We finished up the house tour, took a hydration and ice cream break next door in the stables area. We decided it was time to head to the extensive gardens. We found out that the place “closes” but the “gates” don’t technically close so we could stay in the gardens until the light was too low.

We set a meeting place and time and then set off to see and photograph the gardens. I saw a sign that said the greenhouse, with a special showing of model trains, would close soon at 6 PM so a couple of us walked in that direction.

Biltmore Greenhouse

The Greenhouse was so full of plants and flowers. Amongst them, tracks had been set up for model trains. Also, throughout the greenhouse, there were models of the various buildings at the Biltmore Estate that were made entirely of natural materials.

Natural Materials Model of Mansion
Natural Materials Model of Greenhouse
One of the many large-gauge model trains that were running through the greenhouse

I was in my happy place with all the beautiful flowers everywhere!

The Stargazer lilies were my favorites.

But the orchids were pretty as well.

Once we had gone through all the sections of the greenhouse, we headed out to the gardens. I was once again in my happy place. They have many flowers that we don’t have in Florida! I was running around as fast as I could to try to get an image of everything before the sun went down!

Bearded Iris

We walked along the many sidewalks for some more tree-type flowers and colors.


I had seen several Japanese Maple trees throughout the gardens but most of them were still a bit sparse. I finally found one that had some leaves and I was able to get under it for that classic Japanese Maple shot!

Japanese Maple

The light was quickly fading so we headed to our meeting place. We walked very slowly back to the parking lot! I was so tired, but we had had a great day exploring this amazing historic estate!

The Biltmore Estate is a must-see when in Asheville, NC. Be sure to go over to the Antler Hill Village and Winery also.

For more details on Biltmore Estate please visit their website.

My next blog will be on our visit to Catawba Falls which was about 10 minutes from our mountain top house (see Part 1).

To see larger versions of these and many more images, please visit my Gallery.

That is all for now!


Lynn Wiezycki

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