Trump Winery Opens in Albemarle County

By: Jessica Jaglois Email
By: Jessica Jaglois Email

Impact on Sales

How will having the Trump name on the bottle help sales? Robert Harllee, owner of Market Street Wines, says the celebrity name will at least give Trump Winery a first look with buyers.

Harlee says Trump is starting with a good product, but says Kluge wine was priced a little high.

"The wine has to be priced right in order for you to purchase it. If you see overpriced wine, you won't purchase it and then re-purchase it. The quality has to be in the bottle," he said.

October 4, 2011

Real estate mogul Donald Trump marked the official public opening of his Albemarle County wine enterprise Tuesday afternoon with a reception at Trump Vineyard Estates.

Trump took over from former socialite Patricia Kluge and her husband, Bill Moses, after the bank foreclosed on their business. Gov. Bob McDonnell and Trump's son Eric, the winery's president, and Kluge also attended the invitation-only gathering.

In his remarks, the business tycoon said he wanted to make Gov. McDonnell, a big proponent of Virginia wines, proud.

"I think I'm going to be here quite a bit," he said. "It's a big investment and it's going to be an amazing winery and a great vineyard."

The elder Trump bought Kluge Estate Winery and Vineyard in April for more than $6 million. He's confident he can make money in the wine business in part because he doesn't have a mortgage on the land.

Trump hired Kluge as vice president of operations and Moses as chief executive officer. The now bankrupt couple owes an estimated $46 million to three banks. Creditors include Farm Credit, Sonabank and even Piedmont Virginia Community College, which is still owned half of a $1.2 million donation that led to the naming of the new Kluge-Moses Science Building.

Eric Trump says the focus is renovating Kluge property to make it the best winery in Charlottesville and the world. They plan on keeping most of the old staff and hiring plenty more as the operation expands.

The old labels will remain on the wine bottles for now, but Kluge said there are plans in the works to create a few new Trump brands.

The winery is Trump's second major real estate investment in Virginia, the first being Trump National Golf Club in Loudoun County.

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