Being first is nothing new to Donald Trump and, in this case, timing is everything.
Known for associating their brand with luxury and the finer things in life, the sound of a popping cork and tiny effervescent bubbles racing to the top are symbolic of this latest of Trump ventures. Trump blew into the Virginia countryside in early October 2011 with a clapping helicopter entrance and media show announcing his arrival onto the Monticello AVA scene and in a flash set in motion the transference of ownership from Kluge Estate to his namesake.
With 95 acres of grapes dedicated to sparkling wines, the 2014 harvest began as a “crunch to the crush”. The consumption of Champagne and sparkling wine has been on the rise and Trump Winery was poised to meet that demand. After an unseasonably cool Summer, little rain and hot August days approaching, the time to pick the Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes for sparkling wines was quickly upon us in the Charlottesville area. Due to their micro-climate, location and a desire to have a more acidic grape desirable for sparkling wines, Trump is one of the earliest vineyards in Virginia to start picking grapes (as early as August 7th). If we got rain too soon, as was in the original forecast for the 9th and 10th of August, the grapes could become saturated affecting the sugar (brixx) level which is so critical. Harvesting grapes at night and into the cool morning hours is ideal for a champagne style wine. Vineyard managers believe that night harvests result in grapes with better sugar levels and acidity. It is also easier on the workers who are hand picking without having to labor in the heat of the day.
On Sunday August 10th, accompanied by my husband and our daughter ( our photographer) we set off for a visit to the Trump Winery tasting room. The transformation from Kluge Estate was quite apparent with the Trump logo everywhere emblazoned on polo shirts, on chocolate bars looking newly minted in silver and gold and on the black shirted tasting room team attending to the guests. Even the bathroom fixtures appear gilded!
Business is certainly thriving at Trump and the tasting room filled rapidly, but not before we had quick assistance from lovely Judi Bowers, opening a bottle of the Trump Brut Sparkling Rosé 2009 to taste. Great choice, Judi! Armed with our Champagne glasses and an ice bucket we headed outdoors.
One of the best decisions ( in my opinion) made at the tasting room since Trump had taken ownership was opening up the vista off the larger outdoor patio. Previously the outdoor space had been surrounded by trees and dense natural foliage obscuring the view. Now a picture-postcard, artist-inspiring view draws guests out to rough picnic tables with a pastoral scene of vineyards and a lake in the distance. Just off the patio and tasting bar is a garden smelling ripe with tomatoes.
The salmon colored sparkling wine paired beautifully in taste and appearance with our selection of a rustic bacon lettuce tomato sandwich and a Caprese salad of heirloom tomatoes. We savored the experience and our glass of Brut Rose before heading out on the hike across the road through the vineyards. As we approached the vines seemed to come alive with the rustling sounds of invisible workers hidden below the vines laughing and singing as they selected the best clusters of grapes to clip. Moving rapidly up the rows and bringing in the bunches of grapes was a pleasure to watch.
Listen and perhaps the next time you pop open a bottle of sparkling wine from Central Virginia you may hear some of the laughter and song in the rising bubbles!
We hope you enjoy your next bottle of Trump bubbly as much as we did.