Kluge mixes oil and wine

"I'll have a bottle of your best Bordeaux and $20 of high-test, please."

Pairing a fine wine and gasoline might seem a little unlikely, but you just might find yourself uttering such words in the not too distant future– if Patricia Kluge has her way.

The former wife of America's twelfth richest man, John Kluge, has not one but two new food businesses in the works to showcase her fledgling winery.

The first is an upscale restaurant/gas station slated for the corner of Ninth and Market Streets, on which Dish reported a month or so back. The second is a retail store that she plans to open on the grounds of Albemarle House, Kluge's sumptuous estate south of town.

To get the low-down on her high falutin' plans for the estate retail store, Albemarle Farm Shop, Dish climbed into Kluge's Range Rover with the grand dame herself at the wheel. We headed for the shop past the vineyards lining Kluge's private road, Grand Cru Drive, for an exclusive tour of the store that also will serve as a tasting room for Kluge Estate Winery and Vineyard.

Kluge's passion isn't only for wine. Walking into the stone and wood international-and-American-style shop, visitors will first encounter chocolates from the internationally acclaimed host of the Food Network's show, Chocolates from Jacques Torres, Kluge says.

As construction workers scurry to get the shop finished for its November 15 opening, Kluge points out the location of the charcuterie, or meat section. "We'll make our own foie gras," says Kluge.

Another section features fruit from her orchards made into homemade jams and "eau de vie" brandy.

Of course there's a wine tasting room, and Kluge emphasizes the importance of having the right glass for each type of wine tasted. So don't worry about having to drink her Bordeaux-blend New World Red from a champagne flute.

The store will also have a coffee shop, bakery, and a gift shop that will sell topiaries.

For those who aren't inclined to take the drive south, Kluge says the inventory will be available online, and better yet, the store will deliver.

As for the downtown gas station/sandwich shop/wine bar/restaurant, Kluge was forthcoming with details. She's considering calling it "Fuel" although "Pump House" is another contenderand hopes for a January 2003 opening.

For those who think Charlottesville's gas stations are already fancy, Kluge plans to rev it up a notch or perhaps several notches.

"First of all, it's a full-service gas station selling cheap, yet high quality gas," says Kluge. Both Kluge and Dish agree– we hate to pump our own gas.

But that's not even the richest part.

"The attendant will give you a menu, and if you'd like a cappuccino, he'll get that for you, too," she says. Talk about putting the "service" back in service station!

However, getting a glass of Kluge's blanc de blancs even in the proper glass, of course– while filling up is a luxury best saved for those with their own personal drivers.