One definition of trump: “To get the better of.” Merriam-Webster
Donald Trump has good reason to pop the cork on some of his bottles of bubbly after gaining the remaining piece of the Patricia Kluge estate in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Just down the road from Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello, the 23,000 square foot Albemarle House came complete with a heliport, pool complex, 45 rooms and an unmowed, trampled front yard littered with “no-trespassing” signs. Apparently, Trump already owned the front yard, along with hundreds of acres of vineyards. The house was the last piece of the original property, which Patricia Kluge had hoped to sell for $100 million. Donald walked away with it for $6.5 million.
John Kluge, once the richest man in America, married Patricia, who was much younger and a former nude model, in 1981. When they divorced in 1990, Patricia got the property and $100 million as part of the settlement.
In 1999, along with William Moses, husband number three, she turned the property into the Kluge Estate Winery and Vineyard, and began producing some very respectable award winning wines.
With overly ambitious investments and a bad economy, things turned sour and finally led to bankruptcy. Donald was a long time friend who had convinced Patricia that he was going to help them out. He bought the winery at a fraction of it’s value in April 2011. He kept both Patricia and William on to help run the winery, but recently let Patricia’s contract expire. William is still on the payroll.
28 year old Eric Trump is now trumpeted as the new owner of Trump Winery. Big plans are in the works to turn Albemarle House into a “boutique hotel” and to create a PGA golf course on the property. The emphasis, though is still on the wines, some still with the Kluge name, many now with the Trump label. It will be an interesting story to follow!