The Donald has his foot in everything — real estate, politics, television, and now Trump is adding a winery to his list of ventures.
Tuesday, October 4, 2011
The reality TV star purchased the renowned Kluge Estate Winery and Vineyard back in April after the business went into foreclosure. Trump purchased the winery for more than $6 million from Patricia Kluge. He will be celebrating the opening of the revamped Charlottesville, VA establishment, now Trump Vineyard Estates on Tuesday.
In addition to Trump, Kluge, Gov. Bob McDonnell and wife Maureen will also be on hand at a reception for the opening of Trump Vineyard Estates in Albermarle County. Trump’s son, Eric, is the winery’s president and will also attend the invitation-only event.
Patricia Kluge, 62, the estate’s previous owner and onetime socialite who was married to billionaire media mogul and former richest man in America John Kluge.
Kluge will remain involved in the winery, acting as chief executive officer. She filed for bankruptcy protection in January after defaulting on loans took out to expand the winery.
Patricia and her husband, William Moses, 64, will make about $250,000 under a one-year contract to work for Trump at the winery. She’ll handle the winemaking, bottling and marketing, and Mr. Moses oversees legal and other matters part time.
“I buy a lot of very high-end distressed properties, and over the years, I have worked with many people who have lost their fortunes,” Mr. Trump said. “They have almost never wanted to see again what they lost or where they came from. Patricia is unique because she is still so deeply involved with the vineyard.”
The opening of the winery under the well-known Trump name aligns with McDonnell’s promotion of Virginia wines. “The governor looks forward to celebrating another great step forward for Virginia’s growing and job-creating wine industry,” said McDonnell spokesman Tucker Martin.
The winery will run under the direction of Eric Trump, who wrote on the Trump Winery website, “As the premier name in sophistication and quality, we are proud to present you with the latest jewel in our portfolio of spectacular properties and brands.
The site adds, “Combining meticulous winemaking practices and talent with a genuine love of the land and support for the Virginia wine community, Trump Winery is capitalizing on the region’s potential to create world-class wines. Trump’s accomplished team and terroir reinforces the promise of good things to come.”
“We are committed, and he is committed,” Kluge told The Washington Post following the auction, “and great things are going to come from the Kluge Estate and for the Virginia wine industry.”
As general manager, Patricia now works closely with Eric. “She has created some of the best wines in the country,” the younger Trump said, noting they have been served in elite restaurants and at Chelsea Clinton’s rehearsal dinner. Ms. Kluge is experimenting with new wines and eagerly presses a visitor to taste an aperitif she is developing. Some wines will continue to carry the Kluge label, while some others will bear the Trump name.
Michael McCarty, who runs Michael’s Restaurants in Manhattan and Los Angeles, has carried the Kluge wines and speaks highly of them, as well as Ms. Kluge.
Shortly after the divorce, Kluge was rumored to be dating then-Virginia Gov. L. Douglas Wilder. In 1989, a year before their marriage ended, the Kluges gave $200,000 to Wilder’s gubernatorial campaign and raised another half-million dollars for him from their friends.
Currently Patricia rents a 6,000-square-foot home with a swimming pool and five bedrooms decorated by a celebrity designer, David Easton, in what was intended to be the first house in an exclusive gated community down the road from her old mansion.
Her vision for an estate and business and gated community was certainly outsize. But the undoing of Ms. Kluge was not so different from that of many Americans who maxed out their credit cards and their home loans during boom times. She borrowed heavily. It’s just that she had so much more to leverage.
One of the largest houses in the county with 23,538 square feet, the mansion was listed for sale 15 months ago for $100 million, a record-setting price that now has dropped to $24 million.
“I loved the life I lived at Albemarle. Are you kidding? But it does not define who I am,” she says, dressed in cotton slacks and a T-shirt from the Mount Kenya Safari Club. “If you can get a job, you can build another fortune,” she adds. “That is what I focus on.”
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RELATED TOPIC: Meet Virginia Socialite Patricia Maureen Rose Kluge