Trump Estate: Girls Night Out

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It’s been two months since I wrote Part One of this post!

Procrastination and life has a way of interfering with sitting back at a keyboard with a glass of wine and reflecting on how  blessed we are to live in such a beautiful part of the world. It actually took the Republican National Convention to spur me on to writing. Kerry Woolard, General Manager of Trump Winery, spoke last night at the RNC and Eric Trump is slated to speak this evening. I have Kerry to thank, along with the staff at Trump Winery, for making our stay exceptional.  Oh, and by the way, this is not a political diatribe, it just got me thinking. This is about an over the top Bed and Breakfast in Virginia wine country,  just a short drive down the road from the historic Monticello,  Ashlawn ( James Monroe’s home),  Dave Matthew’s winery Blenheim Vineyards, peach and apple orchards and our own charming downtown Charlottesville.

In thinking back over our stay,  I pondered as to why it was such an impressionable overnight  and several reasons came to mind.

One: As children we hear stories and read fairy tales about princes and princesses, castles and sumptuous living, but only a few people actually experience the daily lifestyle of the rich and famous. This was an opportunity to slip into that world, for a night or a weekend or a week.

Two: Trump does have the letter “T” everywhere and guess who has the same initials? So, when they handed us the remote control for the gate to the property and I kept seeing the “T” everywhere, well, it kind of did feel like home. The fact that the manor house has only (only!) ten suites, and due to the limited number of guests on our stay, my sister actually started calling it her home. Conversations began with “ I’m so glad you could come to visit me” and along with plenty of bubbly wine and giggles, we did make ourselves quite at home.Lumina_Boston_Photography_www.luminaboston.com_Charlottesville_Wedding_photographer_Trump_Albemarle_Estate_-0043

Three:  The approach through the vineyards and traversing through the rolling countryside with pastoral vistas, I was reminded of early 1800’s paintings of  England in  particular, a  landscape by English Romantic painter, John Constable of Wivenhoe Park  an English landscape park, and the estate of the Rebow family. John_Constable_-_Wivenhoe_Park,_Essex_-_Google_Art_Project

Four: Elegance permeated the property with two 1760 handmade Waterford crystal chandeliers, the elaborate ornamental rococo mantle in the dining room, the soaring 22 foot ceiling in the living room, hand-painted wallpaper designed in Paris and painted in India, garden statuary and formal rose gardens plus the Steinway grand piano-  all speak to a lifestyle of days gone by and made this home outstanding.

As I said, we were totally impressed!

Movie Night

So that night, we slipped on our slippers like The Twelve Dancing Princesses by the Brothers Grimm (except there were only four princesses in this story) and danced and traipsed through the halls of the mansion down to the private theater, complete with freshly popped popcorn, loads of candy bars and BYOB Trump Sparkling Blanc de Blanc.              Lumina_Boston_Photography_www.luminaboston.com_Charlottesville_Wedding_photographer_Trump_Albemarle_Estate_-0095

Okay, so maybe we don’t look like princesses-we felt like princesses.

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Showing pictures of our “Pajama Party” at the Albemarle Estate,  I really wanted you to see how much fun you can have at the estate and it would’t be complete without sharing about our evening in the private theater. The room was used in the 1980’s to screen first release films and currently, state of the art surround sound and HD projection. For about $20 per person, you can reserve the theater for your group .

You’ll have the theater to yourself with tons of movies to choose from (you get to select only one though), all you can eat Reese’s and it’s really close to the indoor hot tub, sauna and outdoor pool area if you decide to do something else. I fell asleep and missed THE END but we had a short walk to our opulent suite and sweet dreams.

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I think the pictures speak volumes…it was a heavenly wake-up and the formal breakfast/brunch was artfully presented.

Afterward, we took advantage of the cool morning air, a bike ride and further exploring the property…

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A special thanks to my sweet daughter/photographer, Jillian Curran of  Lumina Boston Photography, the pictures were too many, too wonderful to include all in this one post.

I hope you have as much fun as we did!

THE END

 

 

 

 

Trump Estate Winery, Albemarle House and Virginia Wine Chat

IMG_5589 Friday afternoon, one week before Christmas, a pot of stew simmering on the stove and a glass of crimson Cabernet Sauvignon smiling at me next to my laptop. The last thing I need to do is write a blog post. Still haven’t finished shopping or writing Christmas cards, but I can’t help reflecting back over another wonderful year living in the Virginia wine country. If you live here or visit Central Virginia,I encourage you to  pause long enough to appreciate the Blue Ridge mountains, the exquisite neon pink, fuchsia and purple sunsets, the rows of vineyards crossing slopes between country estates and the hospitality of our local wineries. So stop… carve out a little time… and enjoy…

Highlights that stand out over the seasons of 2015 were sensory experiences I will not forget. Thank you to Claude Thibaut, winemaker and friend, who graciously helped us showcase the elegance and entertaining value of our clients home  for sale in Northern Albemarle county. It was a sparkling day in January with crystal blue skies, ridges of mountains in the background and fireplaces warming us as Claude poured flutes of Thibaut-Janisson Extra Brut. The home was a house of celebrations and what better way to exemplify it then offering Thibaut-Janisson bubbly for our agents and guests to enjoy during the tour. And yes, the home sold and there is a new owner;  I hope they are toasting in the New Year with TJ Extra Brut!IMG_5515

The second highlight was a quite grand event- the official ribbon cutting at the Albemarle Estate, 98 pastoral acres and the 23,000 square foot, 45 room mansion.  Strategically purchased by Donald Trump at a fantastically low $6,700,000 price after having already secured the Kluge Estate Winery and portions of the vineyards surrounding the property. Thanks to good friend Mark Norman, President of World Wine Marketing and Kerry Woolard, General Manager of all operations at Trump Estate, I was invited and able to see the opulent interior and manicured Italianate gardens of Albemarle House!IMG_5517

In Trump style (pardon the cliché) guests as well as local dignitaries gathered in front of the manor, newscasters in place poised with microphones as the chop-chop-chop sounds of the highly recognizable  private helicopter landed yards away from our seats. Introductions followed including Eric Trump, Donald’s son who has taken leadership of Trump Estate Winery as President and Kerry Woolard, General Manager. Both have impressive credentials and since taking over the foreclosed property have placed the Trump name significantly on the map in Virginia wine country. 

**Another separate blog post devoted to Albemarle Estate will follow soon, extolling the details and beauty of the property, especially as a remarkable fairy tale wedding venue and luxury B & B.**IMG_5540IMG_5542

The third and final highlight for me was a return trip on December 10th to the fully operational Albemarle Estate for a Virginia Wine Chat event hosted and moderated by well known popular wine expert and blogger, Frank Morgan of Drink What You Like and Jonathan Wheeler, Winemaker for Trump Estate Winery. Jonathan has been with the estate since 2006 and it was interesting hearing his explanations and joining in the conversation as questions came from not only the small group of guests, but also participants via Twitter and Ustream using the hashtag #VAWineChat. Virginia Wine Chat is a virtual participation event for busy wine lovers to gather, share and learn in the comfort of their own home (or wherever they may be at the scheduled moment). Started in 2013 by Frank Morgan after realizing the interest and opportunity for social media oenophiles to meet virtually. Make plans to participate next month if you aren’t already involved.

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Frank Morgan and Jonathan Wheeler-photo courtesy of Mark Norman

Greeted by the Trump management and hospitality team, we were immediately offered our choice of two wines, a Viognier and a Sparkling Reserve. Bubbles trump every time for me-pun intended.

Appetizers were delicious with my favorite served, mini gluten-free crab cakes! Yummy with the crisp sparkling wine! Strolling through the elegantly appointed rooms accented with tasteful Christmas decorations, we made ourselves at home (oh my gosh!) and settled in to the Library, a combination room including leather tufted sofas, fireplace and billiard table and served by the adjacent bar. Hospitality abounded throughout the evening and we proceeded to the event itself. Note:pinching myself, could get really used to this!IMG_7268

The wines featured were a 2009 Blanc de Blanc, 2009 Sparkling Rose, 2014 Chardonnay  and the pre-release 2014 Meritage. All were very good, the Meritage was a little young and needed more time to develop ( they already know that) but well received. I think we had a consensus that the overall favorite, and by the way, we all asked for a second pour, was the 2009 Blanc de Blanc-effervescent and citrusy with a nice light yeasty influence. IMG_7272

If you haven’t finished shopping like me, check out the “Gift Shop” at Trump Winery for some last minute Christmas or New Years ideas. Hint to my husband, hope he reads the blog…

Cheers to the end of 2015, an excellent vintage in my opinion =)

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Promises and Celebrations at Pippin Hill Farm & Vineyards

Promises and Contrasts.  Pippin Hill Farm and Vineyards  is the newest addition to the Monticello Trail AVA  but has the aura of  generations of history. Set in a valley in the southern end of Albemarle County, this boutique winery promises to be one of the most coveted locations for wedding celebrations  in Virginia.  I was struck by the contrasts of old and new, soft and coarse, refined and rustic; the promise of a new venture developing like a fine Bordeaux into an exquisite wedding destination. 

 Upon first approach from the road, the hillside divide into two vineyards, both are in first year growth. Very new!  On the crest of the hill,  the Granary and Tasting Room are visible,  designed in the style of a classic farmstead house with the barn blending into the rolling countryside.  The structure appears old but the newly sown grass and plantings give it away.  The panoramic views are Old World and I can’t help but anticipate the views after the vines mature, anchoring the vista of  the  Blue Ridge Mountains and surrounding hills !  Definitely add this to your Autumn leaf peeping, wine tasting outings!

                                                                                  

Owners, Dean Andrews and Lynn Easton Andrews, have assembled the best team, from the architects and landscape designer to the interior design team of  JohnSarahJohn!  Dean has an extensive 30 year background in the hospitality industry  specificically,   international hotel operations and development including properties in the US, Caribbean, French Polynesia and Mexico.  Lynn’s professional career includes producing  large events for Fortune 500 corporations, non-profit organizations, and top-level social clients. Lynn’s expertise is described as orchestrating “high-touch” events that require maximum attention to detail.  It appears that between them, they have the recipe for success!

Chris Hill is the vineyard consultant with decades of experience in vineyard establishment and  management. Michael Shaps of Virginia Wineworks is partnering with Pippin Hill to produce wines and supplement with his label to get things rolling.

 The Structure 

The Pippin Hill facility offers five different arenas for entertaining: the main event building, The Granary; the Winery Tasting Room; the Veranda & Courtyard; the Wine Cellar and Alfresco Dining in the Vineyard.

The elements of design were artistically placed with photo opportunities in mind ( at least that was my impression) and permit countless  locations for keepsake snapshots!  Little niches placed here and there are priceless for stolen kisses and intimate moments!  Perfect for exchanging wedding promises!  Already, the wedding photographers and planners are blogging about this hot location! While I was visiting, three different groups were contemplating scheduling their big event here and judging by the smiles and number of camera clicks, I’d have to believe some deposits were placed!

The Granary is a barn inspired structure and the main event hall for wedding receptions,  accommodating up to 200 people with over 3,600 square feet of open floor space beneath a dramatic two- story wood beamed ceiling.  Old wood and rustic, distressed  furniture coupled with lavish fabrics create a sense of established elegance, feminine yet substantial. Several pieces were selected and imported from San Miguel, Mexico adding to the international feel.  Upstairs,  Brides can dress and primp with their bridesmaids  in the Bridal Loft  delicately decorated with  wispy sheer draperies and soft linen tweed upholstery.  

         

Below, wine tasting and a “vineyard to table” menu are offered on the Veranda and in the Tasting Room, which coincidentally has a loft for the groom  to prepare for the occasion!   The rustic decorating style continues throughout interior and exterior, with little touches of country elegance achieving an effect of a French or Tuscan farmhouse. 

In the Tasting Room, the bar top is constructed  out of  harvested wood from a Montezuma Cypress tree.  These trees are extremely hardy with a  long lifespan, some  can be up to 2,000 years old!  The  Montezuma Cypress  is Mexico’s national tree and cannot be cut down while still alive.  This tree was estimated to have died 10 years ago.  The tree’s circumference is 10′ and stood approximately 70-80′ tall!  

Stay tuned for my next post which will be Part II of Pippin Hill,  the wine  and ambience!