When George Vanderbilt set out to construct the Biltmore estate, he envisioned not only a grand place for himself and his family, he wished to reconstruct the French-style country, self-sufficient estate. This plan included dairy farming. Raising livestock was not unheard of in Western North Carolina, as the terrain made it difficult to grow large rows of cash crops. Vanderbilt, wanting the best, imported Jersey cows for their high quality of milk in 1889.
When in 1894 cows produced more milk than the family or servants used, he donated the surplus to local hospitals, were newspapers picked up on the story of imagining a Vanderbilt for a milkman. This started the Biltmore dairy industry.
Mr. Vanderbilt’s dairy farm received high praise in his day for the quality of milk produced and the cows that made it, with the cows winning awards. One publication wrote of the not only the care the cows received, but the modern techniques used, which produced an abundance of milk. For generations, Biltmore Dairy provide fresh milk, cream, and later ice-cream to the Asheville area; first on horse drawn carriages and later in yellowish-orange trucks with black stripes that still remind some local Ashevillians of their youth. By the 1980s, however, the growth of supermarkets and commercial products overtook local business and Biltmore sold their dairy.
however, the growth of supermarkets and commercial products overtook local business and Biltmore sold their dairy.
Kolarik, Joseph. The Creamery Patron’s Handbook: Being a Compilation of Those Thing the Dairy Farmer Should Know and Practice, to the Speedier Attainment of a Satisfactory Income from His Dairy, and the Pleasure and Profit That Comes of Dairy Work Well and Skillfully Done. The National Dairy Union: Chicago, IL. 1902. 231-233.
Middlesworth, Chester Paul. “Dairy Industry”. NCPedia. 2006. Accessed on 22 August 2017.
Mims, Bryan. “When Milk Reigned at Biltmore”. Our State. 28 May 2014. Accessed on 22 August 2017.
Cover Image: From the Biltmore Dairy Facebook Group