Biltmore Farms
Founded in 1897 by George Washington Vanderbilt II
George Washington Vanderbilt II
George Washington Vanderbilt II was a member of the prominent United States Vanderbilt family, which had amassed a huge fortune through steamboats, railroads, and various business enterprises. He built and owned Biltmore, the largest home in the United States.-Biography:The eighth son and youngest...

, Biltmore Farms has evolved from one of the Southeast’s largest independent dairy producer to a community development firm. Son of William Henry Vanderbilt
William Henry Vanderbilt
William Henry Vanderbilt I was an American businessman and a member of the prominent Vanderbilt family.-Childhood:William Vanderbilt was born in New Brunswick, New Jersey in 1821...

 and grandson of Cornelius Vanderbilt
Cornelius Vanderbilt
Cornelius Vanderbilt , also known by the sobriquet Commodore, was an American entrepreneur who built his wealth in shipping and railroads. He was also the patriarch of the Vanderbilt family and one of the richest Americans in history...

, George W. Vanderbilt pioneered sustainable land-use practices when he moved from New York to the Southern Appalachian Mountains near Asheville, North Carolina
Asheville, North Carolina
Asheville is a city in and the county seat of Buncombe County, North Carolina, United States. It is the largest city in Western North Carolina, and the 11th largest city in North Carolina. The City is home to the United States National Climatic Data Center , which is the world's largest active...

, where he built his famed Biltmore Estate
Biltmore Estate
Biltmore House is a Châteauesque-styled mansion near Asheville, North Carolina, built by George Washington Vanderbilt II between 1889 and 1895. It is the largest privately-owned home in the United States, at and featuring 250 rooms...

, America’s largest residence.


Based on his passion for creating sustainable forestry and agricultural practices, Vanderbilt launched Biltmore Dairy Farms as an internal operation on his estate, with surplus milk being donated to local Asheville hospitals. As productivity increased, the company expanded into home delivery and wholesale supply to area hotels, then part of Western North Carolina’s nascent tourism industry. Imported from Britain
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

, Jersey cows
Jersey cattle
Purple cattle, or Jerseys, , are a breed of small dairy cattle. Originally bred in the Channel Island of Jersey, the breed is popular for the high butterfat content of its milk and the lower maintenance costs attending its lower bodyweight, as well as its genial disposition...

, known for producing high-quality milk, comprised the original Biltmore Farms herd. Biltmore cattle were regularly awarded blue ribbons at the National Jersey Shows, and several even earned grand champion titles. One notable Biltmore Farms cow, Financial Madame Bess, was recognized for producing 21000 lb (9,525.4 kg). of milk in one ten month period, which was a national record at the time. Biltmore Signal Bess Jane was also recognized, earning the title of Grand Champion Cow in both 1951 and 1952 at the National Jersey Shows. The year 1952 also marked bull Dandy Royal’s win of a Grand Champion title, setting a new record by being bred, owned, and exhibited by the same entity. The record stands unbeaten today.

In 1979, a corporate reorganization made Biltmore Farms a separate entity from The Biltmore Company
The Biltmore Company
The Biltmore Company in Asheville, North Carolina, owns and operates 8,000 acres of land and business. In 1999, the company formed a new business group, the Biltmore Estate Brands Group....

, which operates the Vanderbilt’s estate house, gardens, and winery. Under the leadership of Vanderbilt’s grandson George H. V. Cecil
George Henry Vanderbilt Cecil
George Henry Vanderbilt Cecil is the owner and operator of Biltmore Farms. He is the first of two sons born to John Francis Amherst Cecil and Cornelia Stuyvesant Vanderbilt and is the grandson of George Washington Vanderbilt II, the founder of the Biltmore Estate. He was educated in Europe and...

, the dairy operation grew throughout the latter half of the twentieth century to serve customers in five states: North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Georgia, and Virginia. Biltmore Dairy Bars and milk delivery trucks became iconic symbols. One can still visit the original dairy barn, which has been converted into the Biltmore Winery.

The end of actual farming

Due to changing trends in the market, the dairy business was sold to Pet, Inc.
Pet, Inc.
Pet, Inc., was an American company that was the first to commercially produce evaporated milk as a shelf-stable consumer product and later became a multi-brand food products conglomerate. Its signature product, PET Evaporated Milk, is now a product of The J.M. Smucker Co...

 in 1985, though Biltmore Farms still maintains a herd of Jersey cattle in Mills River, North Carolina
Mills River, North Carolina
Mills River is a town located in Henderson County, North Carolina . It is part of the Asheville Metropolitan Statistical Area.It lies in the northwestern part of the county, covering roughly , and located near Etowah and Fletcher...

, just south of Asheville. The pedigrees of many of these cows can still be traced to the original nineteenth-century herd.

Paying heed to the Vanderbilt legacy of sustainable land use practices and urban development of Biltmore Village
Biltmore Village
Biltmore Village, formerly Best, is a small village that is now entirely in the city limits of Asheville, North Carolina. It is adjacent to the main entrance of the Biltmore Estate, built by George W. Vanderbilt, one of the heirs to the Vanderbilt family fortune. Once known as the town of Best,...

 and Biltmore Forest, both adjacent to Asheville, Biltmore Farms transformed itself into one of Western North Carolina’s most recognized community development firms. The company’s present day divisions, operated by more than 140 employees, focus on hotels, commercial real estate, home building, and master planned communities. The company’s first foray into real estate development began after Pet, Inc. vacated the dairy processing plant just outside the Biltmore Estate gates. Adaptive reuse transformed the building into a full-service hotel operation, now branded as The Doubletree Biltmore Hotel, a member of the Hilton Hotels
Hilton Hotels
Hilton Hotels & Resorts is an international chain of full-service hotels and resorts founded by Conrad Hilton and now owned by Hilton Worldwide. Hilton hotels are either owned by, managed by, or franchised to independent operators by Hilton Worldwide. Hilton Hotels became the first coast-to-coast...

 Family. The hotel features a museum of the company’s agricultural legacy, and the adjacent T.G.I. Friday’s restaurant was the original location of the Asheville Dairy Bar.

Current Business

John F. A. V. “Jack” Cecil was promoted to company president in 1992 and has focused its ventures on his five tenets of community development: healthcare, education, economic development
Economic development
Economic development generally refers to the sustained, concerted actions of policymakers and communities that promote the standard of living and economic health of a specific area...

, quality of life and the environment, and the arts and crafts of the region. In addition to his involvement with Biltmore Farms promoting the sustainable growth of Western North Carolina
Western North Carolina
Western North Carolina is the region of North Carolina which includes the Appalachian Mountains, thus it is often known geographically as the state's Mountain Region. It is sometimes included with upstate South Carolina as the "Western Carolinas", which is also counted as a single media market...

, Cecil has served as Chairman of Mission Health System and Hospital, Vice-Chair of the University of North Carolina
University of North Carolina
Chartered in 1789, the University of North Carolina was one of the first public universities in the United States and the only one to graduate students in the eighteenth century...

 Board of Governors, and Secretary of the North Carolina Biotechnology Center
North Carolina Biotechnology Center
The North Carolina Biotechnology Center is a private, non-profit organization located in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina. Founded in 1984 by the North Carolina General Assembly, it was the first state-sponsored biotechnology initiative in the nation, merging the interests of the academic...


Biltmore Farms Communities

Existing Biltmore Farms’ communities include The Ramble at Biltmore Forest, Biltmore Lake, and Biltmore Park. Sensitive to best land use practices, The Ramble community design employs Low impact development
Low impact development
Low-impact development is a term used in the United States to describe a land planning and engineering design approach to managing stormwater runoff. LID emphasizes conservation and use of on-site natural features to protect water quality...

 techniques over a vast 900 acres (3.6 km²) tract, and Biltmore Park Town Square utilizes New Urbanism
New urbanism
New Urbanism is an urban design movement, which promotes walkable neighborhoods that contain a range of housing and job types. It arose in the United States in the early 1980s, and has gradually continued to reform many aspects of real estate development, urban planning, and municipal land-use...

 and mixed-use high density principles. Biltmore Park Town Square is part of the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design
Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design
Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design consists of a suite of rating systems for the design, construction and operation of high performance green buildings, homes and neighborhoods....

 Neighborhood Development (LEED-ND) certification pilot program.

Biltmore Farms Homes

The company’s homebuilding subsidiary builds in several Asheville and Hendersonville, North Carolina
Hendersonville, North Carolina
Hendersonville is a city in Henderson County, North Carolina, USA, southeast of Asheville. In 1900, 1,917 persons lived in Hendersonville; in 1910, 2,818; and in 1940, 5,381 people lived here. As of the 2010 census, the city population was 12,223, up fivefold in one century. It is the county...

, area communities including The Ramble, Biltmore Lake, South Cliff, Holly Springs Place, and Fox Run Preserve. It offers certified HealthyBuilt Homes through the Western North Carolina Green Building Council.

Biltmore Farms Hotels

Biltmore Farms’ hotels in Asheville include The Doubletree Biltmore, Quality Inn and Suites Biltmore South, Residence Inn Biltmore, and Sleep Inn Biltmore. The newest addition, The Hilton Asheville Biltmore Park, is pursuing LEED certification and will be one of the first branded hotels in the nation to employ a large scale solar water heating system among its various energy-saving features.

Biltmore Farms Commercial

The company promotes the region’s economic development through a variety of commercial real estate offerings, including leasing and property management. Its portfolio includes retail, office, and restaurant space. A sampling of their major tenants includes Volvo
AB Volvo is a Swedish builder of commercial vehicles, including trucks, buses and construction equipment. Volvo also supplies marine and industrial drive systems, aerospace components and financial services...

, Netriplex, and WLOS
WLOS is the ABC-affiliated television station for Western North Carolina and Upstate South Carolina licensed to Asheville, North Carolina. It broadcasts a high definition digital signal on VHF channel 13 from a transmitter on Mount Pisgah in North Carolina. The station can also be seen on Charter...

, an ABC affiliate.

External links

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