An Inspired Winemaker
"I was inspired to craft this wine following a stint in Italy's Veneto. After enjoying some of the classic Moscato of the region, I dreamed of creating my own sparkler on home soil. My dream became a reality when I landed at Biltmore, a property where sparkling wine has been part of our culinary and entertaining tradition since George Vanderbilt first opened his doors to guests back in 1895!" Sharon Fenchak's passion for winemaking brought her to Biltmore in 1999 and she attained winemaker status in 2003. In addition to creating fine wines, Fenchak is also involved in research and development for new grape-growing technology and production methods.
So what does méthode champenoise mean, anyway?
This is the traditional way to make sparkling wine, well, sparkle! Modern methods involve injecting CO2 into the bottle, but we prefer the tried-and-true classic method for an authentic fine bubble. To create the finest, most delicate bubbles that don't dissipate quickly in the glass like others, our Pas de Deux undergoes a second fermentation in the bottle:
- First, yeast and sugar are added and the bottle is capped and stored horizontally (this creates the tiny bubbles)
- After aging for up to 12 months, the bottles undergo riddling—basically, they're turned with the caps angled down and slowly rotated so the yeast settles for removal.
- The next step is pretty "cool!" The neck of the bottle is frozen and the plug of leftover yeast is disgorged from the bottle. Now the sparkling wine is not only bubbly but nice and clear.
- Finally, the last step is dosage, which is simply topping the bottle back off after the frozen plug is removed. The bottle is corked, caged, and ready to enjoy!
A Rich History
The building that houses the Biltmore Winery today was once the location of the estate Dairy and was home to Biltmore's herd of approximately 1,000 Jersey cows. Visitors to Biltmore in the 1930s could visit the Dairy and see the milking parlor and processing areas before sampling milk and ice cream from the estate.
A New Chapter
Since its opening in 1985, the Winery has been the hub of Biltmore Wine production. Grapes are weighed, de-stemmed, and "crushed" at the crush dock. Wines are fermented in one of 75 tanks and aged in oak barrels or steel tanks, bottled in our bottling room, and sampled by visitors in our tasting room, which was once the Dairy milking parlor.
The Winery is powered in part by a 6-acre, 1.2 mega-watt solar panel system. Grape byproducts such as stems and must are used for mulching and compost, and retired barrels are cut in half and reused as planters across the estate and repurposed into wine racks.
"Dance for Two"
The Black Swan. Romeo and Juliet. Giselle. Some of the greatest love stories told through dance include iconic pairings of dancers, or pas de deux, a French ballet term meaning "steps of two," in which two dancers perform together. The pas de deux usually includes an entrée, adagio, two variations (one for each dancer) and a coda all throughout which the dancers communicate expressions of love and emotion.