$35 million crunch: Credit lines force Kluge Winery foreclosure

onarch-klugebuilding-rib-wbIn September, Bill Moses and Patricia Kluge cut the ribbon on the science building at PVCC that bears their names. Now the winery that bears her name faces foreclosure.

The upscale wine businesses built by Patricia Kluge are under foreclosure, according to a pending legal notice, and although this marks the second forced auction this year on a Kluge property, this one–- at nearly $35 million–- looms much larger and could dismantle the award-winning winery founded 11 years ago by a billionaire's ex-wife.

The latest foreclosure notice claims a total debt of $34,785,000 and lists assets of the Kluge Estate Winery and Vineyards to be auctioned off, including 907 acres in southern Albemarle, 164 of which are vineyards. The sale would also include the well-known Farm Shop and tasting room, as well as offices, production buildings, six employee houses, and a 34,000-square-foot former carriage museum.

The December 8 sale takes place at noon at the vineyard office building on Grand Cru Drive in the southeastern part of the county. Another auction on December 11 in Madison would sell off 15,000 cases of Kluge Estate wine, including its 2005 New World Red and sparking wines. (The Madison sale is open only to those who are state-licensed to sell alcohol.)

According to attorney Bill Shmidheiser of the law firm of Lenhart Obenshain, the millions owed by Kluge and her husband Bill Moses comes from three three lines of credit–- two from 2007 and one in May 2009 for another for $5 million–- all secured by Kluge Estate Winery and Vineyard LLC. Besides the foreclosure, lender Farm Credit filed a lawsuit against Kluge and Moses October 29 in Albemarle Circuit Court.

"The best way to put it," says Bill Moses, "we had a non-monetary default declared in '08." A covenant in the loan had to do with sales, which were not up to target. Even though the payments were current, according to Moses, the bank called the loan.

"Since 2008, we've been trying to get the loan refinanced or find an investor," he says. "As you know, the past two years have been the worst economic climate."

It's been a year of ups and downs for Patricia Kluge. In September, billionaire John Kluge, her second husband and the father of her son, died at 95 years old. And despite racking up many awards and getting two sparkling wines served at the wedding of the year–- Chelsea Clinton's nuptials in Rhinebeck, New York–- the Kluge Estate finds itself selling upscale products in a still-weak economy. Kluge and Moses said they'd been seeking a financial partner when the bank lowered the boom.

"From our perspective, it is disappointing that at the very moment when these talks appear to be the most productive, they have chosen to take the initial steps toward dismantling the winery as an operating business," the couple said in a prepared statement.

Earlier this year, the couple fought off another foreclosure–- a luxury spec house they developed at Vineyard Estates–- by purchasing (and now inhabiting) the house known as "Glen Love." The latest move appears to be the biggest foreclosure in Albemarle history, coming less than six months after a $17.4 million foreclosure of a planned subdivision.

It's been a year of auctions for Kluge, not all of them foreclosures. In June, Sotheby's brought in $15.2 million by selling off the contents of her on-the-market, 45-room mansion, Albemarle House. Earlier this year, Sotheby's auctioned some of Kluge's jewelry for about $5 million.

Last year, the winemaker put Albemarle House up for sale for a record $100 million, and then in February dropped the price to $48 million. The house and 300 acres are still listed on the Sotheby's website, and are not part of the foreclosure.

Despite the cash-raising sales, Kluge and Moses recently donated $1.2 million for the Kluge Moses Science Building, a cutting-edge science building at Piedmont Virginia Community College that received its grand opening just last month.

Anyone interested in bidding on the winery should bring a $250,000 cashier's check to get in the door, and the winning bidder must pony up another $2.25 million by December 10 for the deposit.

"Patricia Kluge and William Moses have worked very hard to make this a successful enterprise and worked for a couple of years to avoid this, and I hope they can," says lender's attorney Shmidheiser. "What they've assembled is a world-class vineyard and wine, but they haven't been able to market it as quickly as they'd like," says Shmidheiser. "I'm still hoping they can save this."

So does the Kluge/Moses family.

"We will not give up, nor will we go quietly into the night," says the statement. "Stay tuned."

Updated November 2 with comments from Bill Moses.


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I'm not a PK hater by any means, but she appears to be one of those people who simply doesn't have a good head for business. Fuel Co. is a great example. I worked at a place that did some business with them and it seemed that literally every month that I called, there was a new manager, new chef, etc.

She seems to be one of these people who has some good ideas, but no idea how to actually make them work.

Still, it's hard to feel sad for her. She'll always be a wealthy woman thanks to her previous marriage.

For the haters, here is a list of only a few outstanding local wines to try. I am guessing that none of you really know the first thing about wine but its never to late to join the fun.

White Hall Viognier & Pollak Vineyards Viognier
Blenheim Syrah
Mountfair Merlot
Lovingston Petit Manseng & White Hall Petit Manseng
King Family Meritage
Cardinal Point Quattro, Cardinal Point A6
Veritas Kenmar

This is actually a mini list but a great start if you are interested in trying wines made by your neighbors. Plus, if you are in Cville - you can get to all of these within about 30 minutes.

I just hope her beautiful farm doesn't end up purchased by real estate developers.

She is lovely... many are jealous!

"There are world class wines being produced here every day" - Dismayed

This is simply not true. There are some decent wines produced here, but world-class wines? Nope.

People can go on and on about being unmoved by another rich person losing her fortune. But what you should be concerned about is the fact that Kluge's vineyard kept that land from being broken up into horrible subdivisions of McMansions. Do you realize that when that land gets sold, it will very likely be purchased by a developer who is going to eventually subdivide it into another suburban wasteland? I for one thought it was a beautiful piece of land and was glad to see it used for wine. I could never afford to buy any of it, but that was my problem.

Just curious: people go into default on office buildings, homes, etc. and banks move at a snail's pace. Why are they moving so quickly to shut down arguably the best-known and one of the largest wineries in the state. Especially a FARM bank. I smell a rat.

I believe that other's opinions on wine, are just that opinions. It is a matter of taste for the individual. One should not judge these wines unless they have the credentials to do so. I do not believe anyone on here is a wine enthusiast. Patricia Kluge has done a lot for this community and the children. But I guess others can not see that as they want to see the bad in a person. She has touched and enriched so many children's lives in this community. She has helped the Children's Medical Center at UVA, the after school program at Yancey Elementary, PVCC Science Center as well as many others. I sure hope those that have been touched by her are not bashing her on this site or any other. I find that she is a remarkable woman that has follows her passion. Too bad someone led her astray with these loan ideas. I wish her and William Moses the best of luck.

What she was selling was not "wine" (or "Fuel" for that matter), but a chance to feel as if you were part of an Elite class of people to whom cost is not an issue. This pretentious attitude has sullied the great reputation of what is true "Southern Hospitality", and one of the hallmark characteristics of this region.

They were banking on a perceived emotional benefit to the consumer from buying the product, which was a strategy that failed.

Just as the pendulum politically is swinging towards the more fiscally conservative GOP (believed by many to represent PK's "class"), the wealthy too are feeling the pinch of the economy. Take note: it is because no one is buying in. It is time to get serious and sober again about our economy and our responsibility to participate in our democracy. I propose each consumer has more democratic power than they acknowlege or choose to conciuosly exercise.

As to the previous comment about buying local: The only way to break the grip of corporate takeover by the ordinary citizen, is to consider carefully what we spend each dollar on. This is not just a cost-basis.

Do you really support the business you are patronizing? Do you know about the human rights, labor, and environmental impact of the purchase you might make? Is a dollar more for a product from a local business, socially concious business, or a non-publically subsidized industry worth the extra dollar?

It is, if you really want to effect a change and not just sit on the sidelines and whine.

The local Starr Hill Beer is great! It also is cheaper locally in alot of stores than many other boutique beers, you can find an $8 six pack if you know where to find it. Yuengling also deserves some praise (but is a bit yeasty tasting), and Pensylvania is alot closer to ship from than California or Holland, so buy that too if like beer in glass bottles, and supporting good companies.


Starting out by saying that you assume the people that disagree don't know anything about wine immediately erodes the credibility of everything you wrote after that.

I've tried several of the wines you've mentioned. I don't consider any of them to be "outstanding" but merely passable. If you're comparing these wines to other Virginia wines, you may be correct that they stand out, but compared to wines available at any local wine shop, these wines would rate only in the bargain bin. Unfortunately, they don't have bargain prices.

It's not "hating" to hold local wines to the same standard as other comparably priced wines. It is nothing but provincial to put a premium on local wines at the expense of better wines from further away.

I wonder what person is dumb enough to ask the question ââ?¬Å?I wonder what bank was dumb enough to loan so much money with such slim collateral’” when Farm Credit was identified in the article as the lender. Too bad Bush didn’t make No Child Left Behind retroactive.

Perhaps you should be the one to read the article. It mentions numerous lines of credit. Also, Farm Credit loans against land, not business interests. When they appraise a property to give a loan it is about the value of the land by itself, not the business on top of it. When it comes to reading, comprehension is an important part of the equation. But I understand your dismay as I was a product of the Charlottesville Public Schools and I must admit I was not educated as well as I should have been.

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Ditto on local beers. I raise my eyebrows at the St*rr H*ll in the grocery store at $14 a 12 pack, and immediately pick up Yuengl*ng for $9. It's not that great, awards notwithstanding.

Of course "local" imbues food and beverages with certain moral qualities around here. I'd rather drink what tastes the best, local or not.

Average winery size here is far smaller than on the west coast, that's going to tend to drive prices higher here because of economy of scale. There are no Virginia mega-wineries, at least nothing a Californian would consider mega-sized. Prince Michel would be the biggest her, I think and only counts as medium sized in west coast terms. Sadly, I don't think much of their product, although I have to disagree with those who think there's no good wine here. Viognier and Cabernet Franc in particular do well. To those who say it'll never compare to the west coast, well, the 2010 San Francisco International Wine Competition has awarded a Double Gold Medal to the 2006 vintage of the Malvaxia Passito, so somebody thought something was ok. That's one of the most important wine competitions in the US.

Maybe she was a Biscuit Run investor and will be able to write it off.

Give me TJ Swan, "After Hours", "Mellow Days", "Easy Nights", and "Steppin Out". Wild Irish Rose, Ripple, Mad Dog 2020, Night Train, and Thunderbird. Over her swill anyday!!

I heard Pat and Bill and Halsey are going to teach a class at Piedmont on Investing in the Charlottesville Area. I hear the class is almost full and even Oliver Kutner couldnt get it, glad I did

Virginia soil and climate is different than California, Oregon, Washington, Chile, Spain, France, and every other area of the world that grows grapes, but there is a huge variety of grapes available to plant, and more hybrids coming out all the time. Very soon, Viognier will be to Virginia what Chardonnay was to California. There are world class Viogniers being produced in Charlottesville right now. Check out Pollak and Veritas, just to name a few.

Kluge wines weren't bad, but they aren't as good as many of the others in the area. Their prices were high because of the ridiculous overhead they created for themselves. I'd rather taste wine on a carport and pay a reasonable amount for a bottle than in a glorious tasting room with Riedel stemware like Kluge (although they went to some weird vials as tasting vessels in the last year or two).

Kluge and Sweely (another VA Winery on the auction block) both made fatal mistakes, early on. They tried to grow too big, too fast. They didn't have a loyal following and weren't making good enough product to overcome this. The other large wineries in Virginia (Horton, Barboursville, Prince Michelle, and Williamsburg) have been around the longest in the wine industry and grew steadily over the last 30 years. Thinking you can be a big winery right out of the gate is a rookie mistake. If someone with a name as famous as Kluge can't make that work, nobody can. I hope new winery ventures will take note, and write their business plans appropriately.

she had a fortune and did not have the good common sense to utilize it wisely. thinking you have to have the biggest and best straight out of the box is not the way to start a business. you have to grow and nuture any business carefully. a feeling of entitlement does not grow businesses. no matter how much money a person has, a good education and common sense will always win out. the only person to blame for this fiasco is the owner and if the land is purchased by developers and they put in mcmansions, blame that on the previous owner also. actually albemarle county may possibly make more tax money on the mcmansions than they do on the kluge estate anyway which could help the budget!

the average person

barely can barrow enough for a car

give me a break

If the auction doesnt make the lender whole, they should go after the $1.2 mil of their money that Kluge donated to PVCC. Probably qualifies as a fraudulent conveyance. If I couldnt pay my mortgage but was out cutting big-spender sized checks to charities, I'd expect nothing less. And all to get their names on a building. Shameful.
$35,000,000.00 would probably buy you the combined operations of almost every other local vineyard, but maybe the land is worth $10M? How much did The Rocks llc's auction bring?

I remember when she opened that horrible 'Fuel." She was so deluded that she thought she would open a line of these full serve, bring cafe lattes to your car, high end restaurant gas stations.

They spent the first year cutting the prices of everything, but still were losing 100k/month. You gotta be a pretty poor business person to lose 100K/month on a gas station, or a restaurant.

Fuel was awesome for lunch. Great sandwiches, killer prepared foods to go. It was never going to work longterm, no parking, and plenty of other reasons like tons of people really dislike her, but Fuel was not horrible...

When are people going to realize that fine quality red wine at a good price is not going to happen here? Why waste the land with the overpriced grapes so rich people from elsewhere can play at making wine. There are so many great red wines in Oregon, Washington, and California, why would you pay 35-75 bucks for something that is not even close to a fine wine here when you can get a sweet Pinot Noir from Oregon for 13 bucks?

Kluge's first bottled wine, FIRST mind you, was priced at $500 a bottle. Like the rest of Virginia's red wines, it was awful. (I had a complimentary glass.)

$500 a bottle wine with no market? $100 million house in a down market? Chutzpa is the name of their game, and they play for the fun of it. They can afford to.

We can laugh, but I miss fuel, IMO the only really good marketing idea Pat had. But upscale nibbles needs a city more sophisticated than this one. Like the rest of the South, we are mostly a turnip garden growing just plain Bill average people and jealous peons raised in school cafeterias and, for a night out, drool over fast food at Burger Bilge. Rather than here, she should test market Fuel in Darien, New Canaan, or Greenwich Connecticut, where sophisticates live and the average income is two or three times ours.

Guess Pat didn't realize that strangers to good food can't recognize it and don't want it. Her husband, John, understood better. He owned bottom feeder food chains like the barely passable Bonanza Steak House and the -awful- Ponderosa cafeteria. How Pat must have chafed knowing her husband had such a large hand in stuffing calories into barbarians.

Ih ad one of those $10 sandwiches the day it opened. After finishing the little appetizer sized thing I had to go looking for more food. But when the sandwich, juice, dessert and coffee came to $20 for lunch.... fail.

I had dinner at Fuel once. The food was good, the service was good; but who wants to watch people put gas in their cars 20 feet from you dinner table? Belair Market ambience with Hamilton prices.

BTW the chap who managed Fuel at its opening now owns Basil on W Main.

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BTW the chap who managed Fuel at its opening now owns Basil on W Main.

Hugh - didn't you mean Charles at Orzo on West Main?

It irritates me no end when writers use that fatuous word "upscale" to describe something. It only means that the price is jacked up so high that the product MUST be good. This is the kind on thing Americans have been told for years, and they believe it. Kluge wines like most others are grossly overpriced when compared to how good they are. Most are terrible, others mere plonk. No wonder she has gone broke. There is not one really good wine produced in this state yet.


@Captain Jacobi

How long have you been holding that mouthful of bile in? So how does someone with your posh sensibilities end up in this rustic backwater anyway? Anything we can do to give you a ticket out?

Well, perhaps now we know why her wine was so overpriced compared with where it belonged in the market. It (or at least 15,000 cases of it) were being used as collateral to secure a loan. Even if she'd wanted to drop the per-bottle price to a more reasonable $10 range, she probably would have also placed herself in default by doing so.
Her divorce left her with about $50M in real estate and a $1.6M per week allowance (based on the interest earned on a BILLION dollars). So, where did all the money go, Pat?

this quote on why she was fired from every job she ever held is perhaps telling:
"But I was heartbroken all the same. I wanted to do well. It's just that ââ?¬â?? truth to tell ââ?¬â?? I was never brought up to work. I didn't have the discipline for it, and didn't know how to behave."

I am so sorry to hear of this. I was a distributor and retailer in another state. We carried Kluge Wines. It was a great concept, good wine (Sparkling Rose) and some of the people who worked there knew what they were doing. However, the owners wouldn't listen to those people. One of them was AB. One of the best sales persons I have ever seen. Maybe someone will come in and put things back together...and hire me. I know I could get it in the right perspective. Good luck Patricia.

Same as JS.

This is absolutely the worst news I have heard all day. What ever will these newly "poor" folks do to survive? I'll see you as you go by on the way to the bottom of the economic food chain. Good luck and enjoy your new lives.

Maybe they can get a job on Real Wives of Charlottesville.

I knew this day would inevitably arrive, but I'm feeling far less schadefeude than I thought I would.

Kluge's concept behind the winery and Farm Shop was a great one. The difficulty was primarily in the execution, and this venture quickly became an opportunity squandered. Her original intent wasn't just to start an eponymous winery, but also to create a real asset (and tourist dollars) for the Cville area. However, you don't benefit the area by alienating your neighbors and vendors, and by abusing a stunningly large and ever-revolving number of employees.

In her defense... sort of... much of the abuse was handed out by a nasty and dysfunctional management "team." They ruled their office fiefdom with an agenda made up of equal parts blame, paranoia, and smear campaigns. They were constantly deflecting attention away from their own shortcomings by throwing the loyal and hardworking employees under the bus left and right. Did PK and Bill Moses know this was happening, and if so, did they care? Were all these people considered merely collateral damage? I have no idea. Perhaps I'm woefully naive.

I still admire Kluge's drive and ambition regarding her winery, and understand her desire to create something truly special. Contrary to her own quote above, I've always known her to be an incredibly hard worker. But a business can't treat hardworking people that badly and not have it blow up in their face eventually somehow. So perhaps there is a karmic element at play here.

Some of the wines made when Claude Thibaut was there were stellar, the SP in particular. Charles Gendrot's original Albemarle Ros© was good too. Fortunately for all of us, Thibaut stayed in the area and is making exceptional sparklers under his own name now.

I am feeling the same way as "Been There, Done That" - far less schadenfreude than I thought but it is most definitely still there. This is not a surprise and has come later than many predicted or expected.

There is little comparison to the Kluges and the other wineries in this area. Owning a winery in Virginia, at this point in time, may not make you rich but you can certainly make a living doing it - if you do it "right".

164 acres of vines in how many years? Michel Rolland? Firing people for not agreeing with your "expertise"? Claiming to be the next Mondavi? Let's get a grasp on reality.

Slow down a bit, spend a lot less money, shut your mouth, enjoy your peers and your industry and make the best wine possible. Oh, try not to price it at $500 or $60 a bottle when you are selling a product that has a big hurdle to overcome right out of the gate ("it's Virginia wine...").

There is no "perfect storm" here. They blew this themselves, relied upon bad advisors, or simply made a lot of bad decisions. Then again, it may be as simple as as an ego gone awry.

All this said (typed), I still feel sad about all of it and would have liked the entire story to have played out in so many different ways. Too bad.

Maybe she should ditch that Moses fellow and hook up with Halsey Minor; They could conquer the world together, not.

Maybe former gov doug will bail her out...

How do you make a small fortune in the winery business? Start with a large one.

There are a pack of miserable people talking here.

I applied for asst. manager of the Wine Shop back in July and they offered me the job, then withdrew the offer the very next day. I was so upset. Guess I dodged a bullet on that one. ;/

Man, I had always heard that people in cville were holier then thou, but this thread proves it. Wine is in the eye of the beholder and to say that there has never been a good wine to come out of virginia is as shallow and arrogant as it is uninformed. Get over your self and open your mind a bit. Remember many people said that there was no good wine on the west coast either. Apparently that has changed?

I've always hated the middle class (I'm not talking about people that earn an average wage, they have their good ones too. There's a big difference between good, clean, articulate, middle income earners and MIDDLE CLASS if you know what I mean).

I've learned from reading comments here to hate the fascist socialists (especially if they aren't "natural-born") and now I'm seeing that I ought to hate the rich capitalists too.

Anyone I maybe ought to like other than panda bears and New York geese? Well, I guess deer too, they're doing all they can to help reduce the harvest of all of those nasty grapes. They're on our side, whoever we are.

Truth is, many "nasty" comments here fall into the "what goes around comes around" category. The town is full of people who worked for the Kluges, her in particular since she was the one hungering to make some sort of mark, and who found themselves the toast of the town one day and out on their keister the next. From listening to many of their stories it's easy to infer various things about the character of the subject of those stories, especially when the stories are always the same. What comes through is a person who has become rich through strategic marriages and whose insecurities and paranoia come out when people get too close, so they have to go. The numerous references to serial abuse of a revolving cast of employees have their relationship to that factor. I suppose deep down people like her know who they really are. I think Mark Twain said: "Deep down in his heart no man much respects himself".

My goodness! I hope people on this thread are simply uneducated or misinformed and not actually as hateful and ill willed as they appear. The wine industry brings much needed tourism and dollars to our area and in an uncertain economy that's something we truly need. Not to mention all of the jobs this industry provides to our area.... And to say no good wine has ever been produced here - have you even tried it? There are world class wines being produced here every day - wines that stand up to and surpass wines produced in other states and countries. Not all of them to be sure, but the gems are not all that hard to find. Are VA wines more expensive? In many cases yes - but they are also not usually produced in the tens of thousands of cases as wines in other parts of the world and as any product produced in relatively smaller lots the cost to produce it is greater. Does Kluge tend to over price their wines even given that? Probably, particularly considering the production there was on the larger side for this area. Even so though, we are fortunate to have such a resource here and such a wealth of variety. I personally shudder at the thought of all of the beautiful vineyard landscapes in our area being turned into cookie cutter subdivisions without so much as a good King Family, Keswick, Pollack or yes even Kluge wine left to drown my sorrows in. It's heart breaking really that anyone would take pleasure in a local business or industry failing when so much good from it comes directly into our local economy.

Investing money thats not yours, often leads to problems, Many vendors who supplied Kluge, can testify delayed payments for years.
This has not taken place over night. Read past articles in the Hook, Daily progress.

I am with Dismayed. A local business that brought in tourism, offered jobs and was a part of the community, led by someone who gave to the community is in trouble. Where is the joy in that? It seems as though people delight in Pat's misfortune. Did she not donate money to Charlottesville causes, bring attention to Virginia wine and give people jobs? I guess it's human nature to want people to fail rather than succeed.

I wonder what bank was dumb enough to loan so much money with such slim collateral. The Real Estare is way less than half the a mount even if sold retail. The rest, goodwill/name/ clients /inventory is another couple million at best. Hopefuilly some heads will roll at at whoever loeaned the money.

On the bright side, the banks loss may be someone elses gain as there is an excellent opportunity to buy this turnkey operation on the cheap and make a decent go of it. That ios how it is supposed to work. (unless of course you want Obama to bail her out)

Is there any chance this is a tactical default, and that Pat hasn't been burning cash to heat Albemarle House for the last ten years? Swoop in and buy it all back for 30 or 40 cents on the dollar...
Would she be willing to take the hit to her reputation? Probably not..

I wonder what person is dumb enough to ask the question "I wonder what bank was dumb enough to loan so much money with such slim collateral'" when Farm Credit was identified in the article as the lender. Too bad Bush didn't make No Child Left Behind retroactive.

I did a tour of most of the area wineries about a year and a half ago and found that although Kluge's shop was by far the most posh and needlessly pretentious, I would have to put their wine near the very bottom of the list of those I tried.

It is not surprising that their business was failing, nor that they spent quite a bit of money to achieve this failure.

I say this not out of nastiness or spite, nor because I am miserable. I went to Kluge's winery with an open mind and left with a sour taste in my mouth, literally and figuratively.

Just because a business is local and the business owner makes a show of philanthropy does not mean that they should be immune from the laws of the marketplace. Just because someone somehow wound up with a pile of money does not therefore mean that what they produce is of high quality.

There is a segment of the local population that equates wealth with class and ostentatious luxury with taste. From what I saw and tasted, the Kluge Winery was for them. They are the ones lamenting its closure.

Love Patricia or hate her, Only people who have work for her would under stand. She has a passion which is hard to match.
Some times misguided. Any one who had the pleasure to work for her always gave 120%. But not always appreciated.
Karma is a wonderful thing!

"Dismayed", given that, isn't the best tourism use of Virginia wine country to produce good wine in small amounts? Going into mega production when the world is awash in "wine lakes" is destructive to everyone in the business, right? In Europe they distill the wine into industrial alcohol ("emergency distillation"), here they store it in enormous warehouses.

Piling on P. Kluge is unfortunate, but illustrates a point. Independently wealthy people open all kinds of silly businesses in this town, putting their competitors in, arguably, an unfair position. A lot of shops on the Mall are "whaaa?" for sure, and when they last with few customers, driving up rent... but it adds a lot of character to the Mall also. And fields of horses are pretty...

It's a trade-off, but some people do just go too far.

The Banker should have asked Charles Schwab about investing in vineyards, the new ad from them sums it up.

"Investing in a vineyard give us a break" or check out the ad "Vineyard"

I imagine the boost to tourism invoked by many is chimerical.
Also it appears many area vineyards are vanity operations undertaken by people who have decided that horse farming is just so totally yesterday. Another thing is the "challenge" involved in producing wine at all, or as Samuel Johnson said in another context: "is like a dog walking on its hind legs. It's never done well, but you're surprised to see it done at all". So they put some sort of liquid in bottles and sell it in small quantity to people impressed by the novelty of it. But Virginia soil types and climate come up short compared to western areas and always will. I haven't tasted all local wines, but have never tasted one I thought measured up past cooking use or incorporation into Sangria or some such concoction, and the prices: Oh my goodness!!

If by chance we should fall into society devolving into a post industrial crash where we had to produce booze locally if we wanted to get drunk at all, we could do just fine, but it would be spirits, beer, cider, etc. Strategic default or not, the downfall of the Kluge operation reflects that reality when all's said and done. There comes a time when even the generous subsidies afforded by the federal tax code to "farm" activities don't justify the continued financial bleeding.

@angel eyes...agreed. Amazing what we Virginians plant in the nice red clay and expect it to grow...

For the folks that are claiming to have consumed outstanding Virginia Red wine at a good price please feel free to name the winery and the variety. I'd love to try it...

I heard a rumour Albemarle House was going to be foreclosed on but hadn't heard the one on the winery. I guess someone had it reversed, or it too maybe coming. It's bad when foreclosure happens to anyone. Saving yourself by making a state park had already been done...

I've been digging some Central Va. wines for many years now, but admit I'm not very picky... great values from Chile or Spain are also where it's at for me.
First got really turned onto it by the White Hall vineyards' Merlot from 1994 and 1995, when Brad was the winemaker there (won them the Governer's cup.) More recently: Cardinal Point Cabernet Franc; And all the way up and down the line of what Barboursville has to offer. More on topic: I enjoyed a glass of the Kluge Estate Brut at the Boar's Head the other night. Worth tracking down again.

Harris Teeter had Kluge's 2005 New World Red marked down from $33 to $22 a bottle last night. If I didn't know there were 15,000 cases of it sitting in Madison, I'd say maybe its worth buying as a future collectible? ala Billy Beer. Which I wouldn't drink either.

@? Wine is a very personal thing, but i really love the 03 Horton Norton. You can still find bottles for <$10. I generally like horton's norton every year.

Personally I would say your average Chilean or Spanish or Italian or Washington, etc wine is better then your average Virginia wine, but to say there has never been a good wine produced in Virginia is simply wrong. Granted I have met many people who think the same thing, they are generally the people who like to think of themselves as wine experts and only like a wine when other "experts" tell them they should.