'The wind': Donald Trump lifts spirits at winery

The hottest ticket in Virginia last week was the grand opening of Trump Vineyard Estates, with scores of public officials among 500 wine-happy citizens clamoring for a peek at the relaunched vineyard– as well as a peek at the real estate mogul turned reality television star known as The Donald.

Despite proximity of fewer than two hours south of Manhattan via private helicopter, a close advisor asserts that the October 4 event marked the first time The Donald himself set foot on the southeast-of-Charlottesville property, which Trump bought earlier this year after banks seized the place from Patricia Kluge.

"Donald has become the wind beneath my wings," a smiling Kluge told the crowd. "I feel that I gave birth to this place, and there is nothing more pleasing than to know that it's in the hands of someone I've known for 30 years."

"I'm going to put a lot of people to work," said Trump, who has hired Kluge and her husband, William Moses.

"Patricia did a amazing job," Trump said as he began explaining why he'll succeed where Kluge went bankrupt. "I don't have a mortgage."

Public records show that Trump paid $8.55 million for 871 acres including the pavilion, the Farm Shop on Blenheim Road, and a former carriage museum– a complex that Trump vows to make a thriving center for wines and weddings.

But questions remain about the elusive final piece of his puzzle: Albemarle House. Trump has surrounded the 24,000 square-foot mansion with no-trespassing signs, an effort that has drawn a lawsuit from the owner, Bank of America. What would he do with it?

"What kind of question is that– would you buy it?" he asked the questioner, Hook editor Hawes Spencer, with Kluge finally breaking the silence by quipping, "He couldn't afford it."

Trump's son, Eric, who is heading up the Virginia project, clarified things somewhat afterwards: "We often acquire things and then decide what to do with them."

Another reporter asked Trump about New Jersey Governor Chris Christie's decision to stay out of the presidential contest. "A very good friend of mine," noted Trump, who added that the Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell would make a "fantastic" Republican vice presidential candidate.

McDonnell spent much of his time on the podium extolling the recent growth of the Virginia wine industry (employer of over 3,000 and the nation's sixth largest wine grape producer), and the governor offered his hope that additional tax revenues will soon flow like wine.

A Spencer question on what the governor will do for the little wineries– now forced to sell via middlemen– was politely acknowledged but not specifically answered. Instead, McDonnell enthused that success can't help but follow the Trump brand.

"Put that on the Kluge wine," said the governor, "and that's a match made in heaven."

Eric Trump (whom Kluge calls "baby face") noted the high regard for Kluge's wine and why they won't all be rebranded. "You go into Le Cirque, and you see the Kluge wines."

After the press conference, guests eagerly pressed to be photographed with Trump. When he was busy, they settled for pictures with his helicopter.

Reporters counted all but one member of the Albemarle Board of Supervisors, with City Council represented by Mayor Dave Norris, Holly Edwards, David Brown, and Kristin Szakos. There was no shortage of state delegates, sheriffs, and Central Virginia real-estate moguls such as Wendell Wood and Hunter Craig.

Also partying was Frank Friedman, president of Piedmont Virginia Community College, an institution still owed part of a $1.2 million pledge that Kluge and Moses made a few years before declaring bankruptcy. Friedman declined to venture a guess about whether PVCC– which put the couple's name on a science building– will eventually see the unpaid $480,000.

Just one hour into the two-hour reception, Eric and Donald Trump strolled out to the whirling helicopter and took off in a whoosh of blowing leaves and tousled hair. On the evening in which the enterprise she built officially became Trump Estate Winery, Kluge revealed no mixed emotions about how she felt after losing everything she owned to save her venture.

"Elated," said the former mistress of the estate.

–edited for print publication at 3:22pm, Thursday, October 6.
–Correction: The print version of this story listed a chapel as among the features of the property purchased by Trump; however, the brick chapel is part of the Albemarle House tract which Trump has not yet acquired.

40 comments

Being an ordinary citizen I was not an invitee of this event. Thanks for letting us know some who were. I was at another important event last week - the first and only state public hearing on the community water plan, slated to cost ratepayers upward of $140 million dollars. I am here to report not one, I repeat not one City Councilors was in attendance,
and from the Board of Supervisors only Mr. Rooker, who stayed for the public comment, and Mr. Boyd who made a brief appearance ( not deeming the public comments worthy of his attention ) were there.

Money talks and look who shows up.

A business question . Mr. Trump claims he will create jobs, but what type of jobs, at what salaries ? And will he get tax credits and land use credits from Albemarle county for all this acreage, at a time when the county just announced a 1 million dollar shortfall ? And has anyone considered - maybe he bought this property, not for all the reasons touted, but as a tax write off ?

No wonder wall street is burning - the rich get richer, the poor get poorer and the middle class disappears.

Somehow this article reminds me of the Beatles song "Little Piggies"...

Ha - Kluge capped Hawes. DAMN SON

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Trump hasn't been on the show yet, but Charlottesville Mayor Dave Norris also appears on the Charlottesville, VA, interview program Politics Matters with host and producer Jan Madeleine Paynter to discuss politics and Charlottesville, Virginia's Sister City program: http://bit.ly/pm-norris2

" Trump, who added that the Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell would make a "fantastic" Republican vice presidential candidate. " Does anyone think that McDonnell, who announced today a tight budget ahead, asking for possible sweeping cuts, even in Medicare and Education, notice - nothing mentioned about closing tax breaks for the wealthy - how much money would that add to the state budget ?

Hey, Tim! Hawes could have shot back with....

"Doesn't seem like you could afford it either, Mrs. Kluge!"

Disgusting. And this from a person who this week examined in horror the recent Lindsay Lohan photos, and read the NYT article about the surgical horror move sequel Centipede. Neither compares.

I challenge anyone to find one word in this article that asks for cuts in subsides to the wealthy.

Well said meanwhile, a tawdry display - thanks to the Hook for letting us know who was there.

http://www2.timesdispatch.com/news/virginia-news/2011/oct/04/mcdonnell-w...

Maybe if Trump's vineyard plan fails he can ask to be added to the Biscuit Run State Park --I'm sure he could make a deal with his buddy McDonnell.
And looking at the gorgeous pictures this would be a lovely addition to public land.

kluge in a trump sandwich!

Of course, you don't *actually* see Kluge Wines at Le Cirque, but who's checking?

The Donald, first and foremost the master of a deal. Bring on those tax credits.

" McDonnell talked of traveling to India and Israel next month to promote state wines. He touted a 25% tax credit for those who start or expand a vineyard in Virginia and, and with that, Donald Trump, who could benefit from that bonus, bid guests farewell and took off in his chopper.

http://www.radioiq.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=628:...

Kluge wines are at le Cirque like Trump's investigators were digging up evidence of Obama's birth in Kenya.

These people say anything and it doesn't matter. No wonder the politicians and nouveax riche flocked to this event; they're taking notes.

There was a post here saying that this mad dog winery might become another Bisquit Run. It already is and like Biquit Run we're paying for it in the form of tax write offs and tax credits. Trumple didn't buy this place, we did, and he laughs all the way to the bank, just like those politicians who were in on Bisquit Run.

Gauche, and a sad day for Albemarle. Takes one to know one, the wine leaves a bitter taste. La la land here I come.

Nancy Drew- so now it has to be what type of jobs? How much they will pay?

The $1MM shortfall is the result of the County spending money that they didn't have- CAPISH!

Gee- the same as the current POTUS, who wouldn't know a balance sheet from a pile of sheet!

I see the hook likes to to censor if they don't like what is said. To me that is a good reason to stay away from this drama infested weakly(not a typo)

Wow. All I did was point out the ridiculous business failure of one of the people pictured. I believe I represented the business accurately. Methinks someone has some thin skin?

In a small town like this I guess it's only natural that "journalists" won't publish sad facts about their friends, or the children of their business associates.

If you're well connected and beat up your wife, the hook will print an article implying that there is something wrong with the judge on your case. If you're a business failure whose biggest asset is your last name, you will rub elbows with the political elite.

That this event is the "hot ticket" only shows how tacky this town can be.

Harry, they'd be rolling in money if they didn't hand out all those land tax credits for faux farms. Same with the entire tax code - loop holes and tax credits galore for the rich. Time to consider an entirely new way of collecting taxes. I think Randolph Byrd's idea is interesting.

http://www.wina.com/Charlottesville-Right-Now/3056918

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So glad the Beautiful People could have a get-together. It may be lonely at the Top, but it's a B*TCH at the bottom. At least the cashflow will be a boon to the vicinity... more than we can say about the government meddling in every aspect of our pathetic lives. Memo to gov't.: get the hell out of the way. First do no harm, etc.

Reading all these comments, I can only think "sour grapes." Get over it people, you might get invited to the next party. What is wrong with everyone? ANY business that operates in our area helps the area, provided it isn't polluting it. This is clean industry, it's agricultural, it's elegant, it helps polish the already good image of the region and it brings more money to town. That's good for everyone except the most die hard NIMBYs.

And with respect to jobs, here's a newsflash: you get paid what you're worth. If you're not getting paid enough, time to improve your education and skills. Take some responsibility! Maybe if you do, you can own a helicopter some day too!

Now let's go polish off a bottle or two of Pinot Trump...and quit wining.

You think it's sour grapes? Really? Not that your comment was only directed towards me, but there's no way I would have accepted an invitation to attend this event. Sorry.

My deleted comment would have made plain to you what I think of those pictured who did attend.

Sometimes disdain should be taken at face value. Certainly there are several who have no desire to ever meet Donald Trump nor Ms. Kluge. It's a shame our political "leaders" are not members of this group.

Delete, delete, delete, just like 29, they read something they don't agree with and its delete, delete, delete. I don't use profanity or engage in sexist comments except to say that men are pigs, I should know, I am one, but to get happy with the delete button is no the way to inspire commenting. Every body has an opinion, some better than others, I came here from 29 hoping to get away from totalitarianism, I guess I was wrong.

Nancy Drew- that doesn't make much sense. You too can have the benefit of tax loop holes, just work hard and make teh proper decisions and don;t depend on someone else. Heck, Steve Jobs did it, so can anyone....

Nancy Drew- that doesn't make much sense. You too can have the benefit of tax loop holes, just work hard and make the proper decisions and don't depend on someone else. Heck, Steve Jobs did it, so can anyone....

"Doesn't seem like you could afford it either, Mrs. Kluge!"

Awesome come back Gasbag!

One lady in the pictures above is, apparently, so taken with her pixels that she can not even wait until she gets home to show them to anyone who will indulge her. LOL

In the end, whatever Trump is doing down there won't be about the wine. But for now it's a nice cover story which generates all kinds of public warm-fuzzies. Taking advantage of all the generous tax bennies from "farm" activities allows low carrying costs for the land while he waits for the right time for his core activity of real estate development.. But he may end up with a surprise in the long run with the likely demise of the exurban development paradigm.

Mow, this freedom of speech is one of the most misunderstood things going right now. You have no freedom of speech on the Internet. I should know, I won two lawsuits against women who went up and down the Internet posting false facts and trash talk about me not long ago. Like most people, they thought they could never be tracked down and identified. If The Hook removed anything you ssubmitted, I feel confident their legal counsel advised them it could and most likely would be considered libelous. The Hook would become a party if they allow libelous remarks to remain posted.

You gotta love this guy- presidential hopefuls kiss his ring and look for a blessing and he bails out a bank on the way.

See tax breaks are helping jobs to be created:
-Helicopter pilots-to carry the wealthy around
-Susie Orman & Ms. Manners jobs need to be created: People in bankruptcy should'n't note someone else cannot afford a house, and paying 5K+- a month rent while in bankruptcy. Susie and Ms. Manners would not approve.
-More Winery jobs any day now
-Legal work on bankruptcy, jerrymandering property lines, first right refusal disputes, turning large houses into hotels etc.

"thewinner"- I am not sure that Trump asked anything more of the POTUS than you or I would have asked about anyone who was running for, then elected POTUS. There was an "unknown" there- a question, no one to vouch for the birthplace of the POTUS- a necessary requirement to be POTUS.

Trump just happen to have the funding and a stage to do it and make it a more public issue. All he was looking for, as a businessman- was proof of the truth. Any problem with that?

History will determine the greatness of a POTUS.

I hate whine too...............

HarryD - Good point. However, I do wish it was that simple. Thanks.

"thewinner"- It is simple- when asked, produce! Don't drag it out like you are trying to find a Notary to validate a certificate or something.

Mom and Dad aren't around, aunt lives in poverty, grandma dies- go figure.

"thewinner"- It is simple- when asked, produce! Don't drag it out like you are trying to find a Notary to validate a certificate or something.

Mom and Dad aren't around, aunt lives in poverty, grandma dies- go figure.

A lot of other things in question as well (associations, associates, his book, etc), but we are about done with him anyway.