For anyone familiar with the Virginia wine scene (now the 5th largest state in U.S. wine production with over 190 wineries), you’ll recognize the Kluge Estate Winery and Vineyard name.
Only a few days ago the fate of this international award winning winery was unknown. But yesterday at a foreclosure auction in Charlottesville, Donald Trump’s organization bought the winery for $6.2 million (it had a $28 million mortgage on it).
Patricia Kluge, formerly married to America’s once richest man John Kluge, invested her divorce settlement to start the wine business in 1999. The $44 million+ planted 220 acres of grapes (Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Malbec and Chardonnay), hired well-known Bordeaux, France wine blender Michel Rolland and a specialist from Champagne, bought the finest barrels and bottling equipment, and built the offices / facilities.
She built a reputation with her New World Red Bordeaux-inspired blend and four sparkling wines winning awards in the U.S. and abroad. The wines are served in fine restaurants, the White House and were served at Chelsea Clinton’s wedding rehearsal dinner last summer
Unfortunately it wasn’t enough. The vineyard sold only 13,000 of its 30,000 cases of wine in the last years and defaulted on payments of $35 million. The winery and Albermarle House properties were seized last fall.
Then … Trump to the rescue. Trump and Kluge have been friends since their late 20’s. He put in a bid at auction in February to buy Albermarle House for $15 million (her 23,000 square-foot house once listed for $100 million). And yesterday purchased the winery and vineyard.
To celebrate, I’m sipping a glass of Kluge SP Rosé … ‘Oooo, Wow, Yum!’ (my comments after my first sip)! With a fruity and floral nose, the taste is full of cherry, strawberry and fig yumminess! You can still find the Kluge wines out there. I picked up a bottle at Le Taste Vin in Old Town Alexandria today.
Cheers to the Virginia wine industry for holding on to one of its many bright spots!