Going, gone: Bank takes Kluge's Vineyard Estates

news-vineyd-estates-auctionAttendance was thin as substitute trustee James Autry, in black hat, read the foreclosure notice.

The swanky subdivision that Patricia Kluge once envisioned as pairing top-flight vineyards with high-end houses hit the auction block Monday, and nobody except the project's lender wanted to pay what the bank thought it was worth–- $4.9 million–- so now the bank owns Vineyard Estates.

The new valuation represents a considerable downturn. Not only did Sonabank reclaim the place for far less than the $8.2 million it lent, but the 511 acres in Southeastern Albemarle–- a place where an empty 3.74-acre lot sold four years ago for $1.2 million–- sold for less than $10,000 an acre.

As McLean-based Sonabank joins the ranks of lenders turned real estate owners, Sonabank rep Norman Hammer, who attended the auction, expresses enthusiasm that the bank could recoup more of its investment.

"There's a lot of interest," says Hammer, noting that would-be buyers may be enticed by the burgeoning Virginia wine industry as well as by the gated community's "world class" infrastructure.

However, on this 30-something-degree day, it was reporters, auction employees, and spectators who far outnumbered bidders as the proceedings began at 11am January 31 in front of the Albemarle County Courthouse.

Besides the bank, Les Goldman was the only other bidder. Standing with attorney Steve Blaine, Goldman brought a deposit check for $300,000 and offered $1 million on behalf of an undisclosed Virginia company.

Attorney Blaine, who has been representing the property's developers, Bill Moses and Patricia Kluge, declined to give the name of the company. When the auctioneer asked if the company would bid any higher, the mystery company got a phone call–- and then bowed out.

Kluge and husband Bill Moses first proposed Vineyard Estates in 2003 as an innovative clustering of multi-million-dollar houses on five-acre or so lots in the midst of vineyards, orchards, and meadows. Although some Albemarle Supervisors enthused about the plan to keep more rural land open, many neighbors objected. Kluge and Moses ultimately chose a "by-right" development of 24 parcels on approximately 21-acre lots.

The project ran into trouble last year when a partner in the development, North Carolina-based First Colony, filed for bankruptcy. The only house built in the gated community went up for auction last March 1. Kluge and Moses paid off the $3.675 million loan and moved into the 6,600-square-foot abode called "Glen Love."

news-blaine-goldmanAttorney Steve Blaine, who also represents defaulters Patricia Kluge and Bill Moses, joins Les Goldman to represent an undisclosed Virginia company hoping to pick up Vineyard Estates for a song.

The Vineyard Estates foreclosure is the third facing Kluge-Moses enterprises in a year, and it is not the last. On December 8, Farm Credit took over their Kluge Estate Winery and Vineyard when no one bid the $19 million minimum. Owed $35 million, the bank is trying to find a buyer for the still-working winery.

And on February 16, Bank of America will auction off Albemarle House, the mansion Kluge built while married to  billionaire John Kluge. Three notes on that property total $22.8 million, and interest and penalties push the amount owed to almost $24 million. Kluge listed the house for a stratospheric $100 million in late 2009, and it currently is for sale for $24 million.

Sonabank rep Hammer says the next step is to market the remaining subdivision parcels–- some of them sprawling over dozens of acres–- in Vineyard Estates. The term "grandiose" is uttered by someone talking to Hammer.

"I think 'grandiose' is the right word for the whole development," says Hammer.


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Pattie (all her BEST friends call her that) got tons of money from her divorce from John K. but apparently that wasn't enough dough for her. Trying to parlay her fortune into a greater pile of duckets (bad advice, decisions and a weak economy) led to her financial downfall. Maybe she should consider opening a 'Mashed Potato Stand' on the downtown mall to recoupe some of her lost fortune. Just imagine indulging in a big bucket of mashed potatoes and gravy w/biscuits while strolling the downtown mall!

Patricia Kluge treated me like dirt. What goes around...

May be Donald trump will buy all and save the day, Talk is cheap!!!! money money money
He needs a new Hotel.

Grandiose defined by Miriam Webster

"1. characterized by affectation of grandeur or splendor or by absurd exaggeration "

Not the best marketing description uttered by the bank's rep - but an honest assessment.

Wonder what her credit score is now. She might have to go to buy here pay here!

Virginia is a recourse state. I hope the lender comes after Kluge for the remainder due on the loan. I would love to see Kluge forced into bankruptcy.

Pat Kluge did a lot to help the local area. She like the rest of the county, took a hit during this economic downturn. So, all these comments are obviously from the local rednecks, who can only point there finger and run there mouth when someone that is successful encounters problems trying to build something that will benifit the local community. I bet the local elders never turned down the hundreds of millions that the Kluge's spent & gave to the community....I'm sure they won't have any problem spending it somewhere else.

How was she "succesful" other than marrying a billionaire...

Feel the hate and the jealousy. Even in bankruptcy she would probably have more money and prestige than all of you haters.

I have no sympathy for banks. If they collect on a loan they get the profits. If a loan is defaulted the cost is passed on to us.

Biscuits and gravy....yummmy.

Mad Hatter,

I have no axe to grind with Patricia, and I think she had some really good ideas, but to equate her as someone who was 'successful' really begs the question. Her late ex-husband was successful, and she did what she did with his money.

If I were to hazard what is unfair, it is that Patricia doesn't seem to be getting the neat bailout that the Bsucuit Run group are, and she isn't getting nice perks and appointments those 'successful' folks are.

I am afraid the real lesson to be learned here won't be learned - that County and City need to stop rolling over for developers and their follies. We all end up paying the price for their pipe dreams in unnecessary infrastructure. Time to give some respect to the rest of those who show up for their jobs and pay their taxes.

Old Timer wrote: "Time to give some respect to the rest of those who show up for their jobs and pay their taxes."

Amen ! Maybe we need to emulate the Egyptians, Tunisians, Jordanians and whoever is next over there. But I am off topic now.

There are many,many, Mrs. Ts in this area. As "Bar" Bush once said: "It rhymes with witch". The woman deserves the reputation as a high hat and lots of people whose comments evince schadenfreude either were touched by her malign hand or were good friends with someone who was. I fit into the latter category.
There are many people in this town who think justice would be served by her living out her "golden years" in penury.

As a PVCC graduate, I'd like to remind you that even though I agree that Patricia Kluge ruined what could have been a multi-generational divorce settlement (around 15 billion in 1990) - she DID give Piedmont Virginia Community College our science building, and it is state of the art. At least that is something that benefits a smaller state school, while her generous ex John (RIP) always gave money to long-established, already wealthy schools like UVA.