Blue Ridge Country - May/June 2015 - 39
The Biltmore Estate
You Haven't Seen
From hundreds of Angus cattle to 18
varieties of microgreens, from cutting-edge
environmental practices to field-to-table
dining, Asheville's Biltmore Estate has
treasures far beyond a general visit.
A seA of bright yellow blooms
prompts drivers to pull over on the
grounds of Biltmore Estate in
Asheville, North Carolina to capture
images of the springtime beauty.
Keeping the landscaping beautiful is
definitely part of Biltmore's mission,
but many visitors are unaware of the
larger purpose at play. These eyecatching fields represent Biltmore's
venture into the bio-fuels arena.
Under the leadership of Ted
Katsigianis, vice president of agriculture and environmental sciences at
Biltmore, crews began planting
canola in 2012. It's part of a partners h i p w i t h A d v a n t a g e We s t ,
Appalachian State University, AB
Tech, and the Biofuels Program of
North Carolina in a pilot project
called Field to Fryer to Field (F3).
"Canola is a real draw for our visitors with its yellow fields," says
Katsigianis. "There are 50 acres of
massive yellow color."
The canola is transformed into
bio-diesel that is used in the estate
vehicles and equipment. They use
at least 20 percent bio-diesel, but
Katsigianis says in warmer months
they can use 100 percent bio-diesel straight from the tank.
"We're also investigating canola
oil for human consumption," he
courtesy of the biltmore
by Marla Hardee Milling
A sea of canola blossoms at Biltmore Estate appears for three to four weeks each spring.
says, "But we'll need more machinery because it needs to be degummed."
A Path Few Visitors Take
Katsigianis swipes his badge across
an electronic eye that opens the gate
leading across the bridge that crosses
the French Broad River into the
Estate's "wild and wooly west side."
"This side of the river is agriculture
and forestry," he says.
The average visitor to Biltmore
never ventures this far on the estate.
The 250-room French Renaissance
Chateau - which retains its status as
the largest private residence in
America - provides hours of exploring the vast treasures Vanderbilt collected, along with specialty tours
that offer the chance to visit rooms
and other areas not on the regular
house tour. Then there's often time
spent eating meals and exploring
the flower gardens.
"The issue we hear from our
guests when we ask why they
didn't visit the winery or Antler
Hill Village is 'I ran out of time,'"
says Katsigianis. "Most of our first
time visitors don't realize this is a
We stop briefly at fields laden
with chardonnay vines - it's here
that Biltmore's award-winning wine
production begins. Nearby, a flock
of South African White Dorper
sheep runs beside a fence before
stopping to begin grazing again. At
May/June 2015 39