Tuesday, October 4th, heralds the grand opening (or re-0pening) of the former Kluge Estate Winery in Albemarle County, Virginia under a new name, (can you guess it?) Trump Winery. Donald Trump’s son, Eric Trump is President and Patricia Kluge and her husband William Moses will serve as Vice Presidents of the winery. Attending the celebration were the aforementioned, as well as Governor Bob McDonnell. The Governor has played a key role in promoting Virginia wines in the United States as well as Europe and soon will be encouraging business with Israel. According to Todd Haymore, Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry, McDonnell and Virginia’s first lady, Maureen McDonnell are credited with helping boost Virginia’s wine sales. The McDonnell administration passed a program giving tax credits to individuals establishing or expanding wineries and vineyards in the Commonwealth.
The media were present to photograph, video and ask questions of Donald Trump, and I found him to be just like he is on television-assertive and gregarious, but better looking in person! There is no question that Trump knows how to deal with the media. When asked by reporters why Donald could make this venture successful when Patricia Kluge could not, he came to her defense in typical “Trumpian” manner and explained that he had the advantage of not having a mortgage! Touche! Another question regarded the intentions of the real estate aspect of his investment .
Mr. Trump said he planned to keep the property “high-end”. When a reporter from The Hook asked about Albemarle House, Donald Trump tossed the question back and asked him if he would want to buy such a big house on such little property! We know who owns the surrounding estate! He is still in the market for Albemarle House but feels the bank has it valued too high.
After answering several questions, the baton was then passed to his son for details about the winery itself. Patricia Kluge joined Eric at the microphone and remarked on her role in the business. Geraldine Fabrikant, a senior writer for Business Day at The New York Times, interviewed Patricia Kluge recently and found her to be, not surprisingly, quite resilient and up to the task of re-establishing herself in the wine industry. Subsequently, Eric Trump stepped aside allowing Gov. McDonnell to praise the wine industry in Virginia.
Ultimately, Donald and Eric Trump and Patricia Kluge plan to expand the vineyards and employ new marketing ideas to the wines and their labels. They refused to elaborate and left it as a surprise for wine lovers. Additionally, Eric mentioned the potential for ”hundreds” of jobs associated with the growth of the winery.
No matter what locals think, the Trump name creates fervor and excitement in a realtively sedate area of Virginia. I know it certainly was fun for me to sit in the Trump helicopter even though I couldn’t wrangle a ride out of the pilot! The pilot did however mention that he loved flying over our scenic Virginia wine country! Planning a trip to Charlottesville? A must-do after visiting Monicello, home of Thomas Jefferson, is the new Trump Winery and the neighboring vineyards owned by Dave Matthews, Blenheim Winery!