Tips for visiting The Biltmore:
It is worth the price of admission. It's gorgeous, and just driving the grounds and checking out the this and that is a nice way to spend a morning. So go.
But eat a good breakfast first. I am a theme park queen, I live in the Vacation Capital of the World, I have seen the high prices and the weird food and I am hardened to it all. I have been to NYC, I lived in LA, I have dined in South Beach and Miami and all of the Beaches, and I grew up in suburban DC, so high restaurant prices do not shock me. Still, our $41 lunch for two (before tip) for two pretentious sandwiches will go down in history as the most I ever paid for a lunch without alcohol. Because it was too early, even for us. So go, do see the Biltmore, it is great, but eat a big breakfast. Grab an ice cream cone if you are weakening, then leave and eat downtown at any of the lovely funky restaurants where they will feed two royally for under thirty bucks with a big cold beer each.
Do go do the wine tasting. Do not be intimidated, it's very non-threatening, and you will be surrounded by people who think Boone's Farm is the peak of chic. Me, I'm bowling alley class. My cousins and I have been known to dump ice in the cheap vino to chill it to make it drinkable. A wine snot, I am not. Boy knows microbrews and can discuss hops and malt like an expert, but isn't into wine. So we went, we tasted, and we bought - nothing.
I am a white wine girl, I live in a hot climate and reds tend to give me hot flashes. But the pinot grigio had the nose of grass clippings in the hot sun, in a Hefty bag, with maybe a trace of dog poop, and that was the most memorable of the whites. The pinot noir actually did not suck, and if I liked reds I might have bought a bottle. But still, it didn't scream, "Take me home!"
Go do the wine tasting, if only for the experience of the Christmas White and the Christmas Red, both so sweet and charming and innocent, Grandma will be facedown on the lawn when the fire department arrives to put out the turkey.
Biltmore photos to follow, because Blogger can only do words or pictures, but not both.