Imagine spending a sunny afternoon with Biltmore Estate all to yourself. You've tasted and selected a bottle of wine from the winery and have set out to find the perfect, peaceful nook. Century-old pathways, designed by Frederick Law Olmsted himself, guide you through the Azalea Garden. The blankets of blooms from more than 100 types of flowering shrubs nearly wrap themselves around you. Pausing at a bench, you delicately cradle a new bloom and the stem of your wineglass as if they were baby sparrows. If only for a moment, you're living the life of a Vanderbilt.
For more information: Contact Biltmore Estate, toll-free 1-877-324-5866 or www.biltmore.com. Estate admission: $45 (includes entry to Biltmore House, gardens, and winery tours and tastings).
An Azalea Picnic
Drop by Biltmore House's Bake Shop, and order a two-person picnic basket ($30) for your walk through the gardens. The Wine and Cheese basket includes domestic and imported cheeses, a baguette, fruit, and a bottle of Biltmore Estate wine.
Our Biltmore Wine Picks
Winemaker Bernard Delille says his favorite wine is the next bottle he's opening, but when pressed for a favorite child, he did admit to being proudest of his sparkling wines. We agree, listing a sparkling as one of our favorite Biltmore selections. Taste for yourself (bottles $8-$30).
- Biltmore Estate Blanc de Blancs Sparkling Brut ($25): You'll notice lemon and apple aromas and a clean finish. Best with spicy foods or even by itself.
- Biltmore Estate Sauvignon Blanc ($10): Look for grapefruit and grassy flavors in this dry and crisp wine. Best paired with seafood.
- Biltmore Estate Château Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon ($18): Full-bodied with a fruity bouquet of plum, cassis, vanilla, and spices. Pair with cheeses.
"An Afternoon at Biltmore" is from the May 2006 issue of Southern Living. Because prices, dates, and other specifics are subject to change, please check all information to make sure it's still current before making your travel plans.