Saturday, August 04, 2007

project 365 #215: biltmore estate

My friend D and I finally used up the free Biltmore Estate passes I got for working the flume there last summer. We spent the afternoon - a rather long, hot, dizziness inducing afternoon, actually - at the Biltmore Estate and we did it all, from the House to the Gardens to the Greenhouse to the Gifte Shoppe to the Winery. Actually, it was really fun. I haven't done the Biltmore like that in, oh, about seven or eight years, which I think is about the right interval.

They won't let you take pictures inside the House, which I think is serious bullshit and so, so dated and ridiculous. But then the Biltmore has been known to be dated and ridiculous before, and also, noone has ever accused the Cecils of being unable to wring every penny of profit out of every single opportunity they can dream up. If you can't take pictures, they reason, you must buy them. So what they do is ambush you as you come around the corner from the formal dining room and take your picture with the Conservatory in the background. Then they give you a coupon and when you leave, your utterly hideous portrait is awaiting, along with an 8 by 10 highly colored glossy of the outside of Biltmore House, for the low low price of, get this, $21.95. Yeah. $21.95 for two, not particularly high quality, digital prints.

Still, the house and gardens and all are amazing. I know, I curse the rich along with the best of them and yield to noone in fury against the running dogs of the imperialist capitalist oppressors of the people but still. It's a wonderful place in some ways. And even if the Biltmore corporate robot drones, who have like the strictest and most insane dress code ever, are evil in their refusal to hire the tattooed, pierced, mohawk'ed, non pantyhose wearing and/or bearded masses (and, one wonders, exactly how DO they staff the place with requirements like those? This IS Asheville.) but if it wasn't there, it would be another horrible Hendersonville Road like sprawl of condos and Mickey Ds. And it's so damn beautiful, so amazingly, achingly beautiful. I'd live there. In fact, I think that when the end of the world comes that's exactly what I'll do - get all my grunged out friends together and clamber onto our spiked out vehicles with our tough dogs and black leather and move into the Biltmore. We can put machine guns on the towers to keep away the zombie aliens flesh eating bacteria monsters and finally fill up the pool in the basement with water and swim in it, which I have wanted to do since the first time I ever went to the Biltmore when I was about 16 or so.

After the house and the gardens and the hothouses and so on, we went to the Winery, where they made us sit through a short and dreary video about the general wonderfulness of Biltmore wines, which, as any Ashevillein will tell you, is something of a joke. Released, we dashed immediately for the tasting bar, where a genial soul poured us small amounts of a panoply of wines. The only good one, and by good I mean you might actually drink it again not under duress, was, distressingly, a Pinot Blanc, which is to say, pink. Quite pink. Rose. Whatever. I bought a bottle for my friend J's birthday next week because the evil Biltmore marketing plan of getting their guests mildly schnockered in the Winery and then steering them through a huge wine themed Gifte Shoppe worked on me like a charm.

Then we went over to my friend S' house where we were joined by none other than J herself, who, during the course of a long and really fun evening of just women drinking beer and laughing for hours, mentioned her eternal hatred and loathing for pink wine from the Biltmore Estate. Well, obviously I had to give it to her right then, which led to much hilarity. It was a long and lovely day, all in all.

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