You're hired: Trump to keep Kluge and Moses at winery
On the same day that Donald Trump announced that he won't be making a run for the U.S. presidency, his son reveals that the famous deal-maker plans to continue to invest in the wine operation he recently bought out of foreclosure– and that he plans to give former owners Patricia Kluge and Bill Moses roles in the operation.
"It will continue as a vineyard," says Eric Trump in a May 16 telephone interview. "How we'll put a label on it, we're still wrapping our arms around that."
What team Trump has wrapped its arms around is the couple vanquished by their own ambitions.
"Patricia's an amazing woman; Bill I very much admire," says Eric Trump. "Yes, they are coming aboard."
Owning the Kluge Estate Winery and Vineyard means Donald Trump, via Trump Virginia Acquisitions LLC, now has a toehold in the state that sent eight men to the White House.
On April 7, Trump agreed to buy two Kluge parcels at auction for $6.21 million: a 129-acre tract with vineyards and the winery and a 647-acre tract with vineyards, pavilion, office, and carriage museum. Earlier, for $374,600, Trump had secured a 217-acre parcel from a trust for Kluge's son, a parcel that's essentially the front yard (and former golf course) to Kluge's former mansion, Albemarle House. That brings Trump's Charlottesville-area holdings to 993 acres.
"My father has had his eye on it for a long time," says Eric Trump. "My father has always believed in buying great properties."
Eric Trump says his father is still eying Albemarle House, which Bank of America foreclosed upon and put back on the market for $16 million. Previously, a Trump rep said the price is too high.
"We'll see what happens," says Eric Trump. "Our play always was for the land, the vineyards, the carriage house, gazebo–- it's an incredible value."
The younger Trump, who says he's been spending considerable time in Charlottesville over the past few weeks, extols Kluge's winemaking abilities, especially her sparkling wine and New World Red.
"It's one of the best vineyards in the world," he raves. "I think [Kluge and Moses] did amazing wonders for the Virginia wine industry."
Asked about a recent report in the New York Times showing that Trump often affixes his name– and not his money– to projects, his son says Trump's investing his own capital in Albemarle and keeping the site "impeccably" maintained. So while Donald Trump won't be running the country, he does get something he wanted.
"He loves holding incredible pieces of land," says Eric Trump. "At the end of the day, he's a real estate developer."
Correction 5/20 on the number of presidents from Virginia.