It's a vine line: Moses knows his wine and widgets

He lives in a staggeringly huge mansion with a glamorous wife whose very name causes heads to turn. In business, he's rubbed shoulders with media magnate Rupert Murdoch and NBA commissioner David Stern. Yet when you meet William J. Moses, husband of Patricia Kluge and current CEO of Kluge Estate Vineyard and Winery, one fact is inescapable: He's a down-to-earth guy.

The son of policeman, Moses grew up in solidly middle-class Asbury Park, New Jersey ("me and Bruce," he laughs). He first came to Charlottesville in 1964 as a UVA undergraduate; the choice was easy– Virginia gave him the most money. Graduating with honors in 1968, he headed straight to law school at the University of Pennsylvania.

"I originally thought I was going into litigation," 56-year-old Moses recalls, sitting at a rustic Chinese table he picked up on a Beijing business trip.

But after a year clerking for a federal judge, Moses became legal counsel for Lincoln National Bank, a stint which turned him on to investment banking. He began delving into entertainment and the media, and his interest in the potential of broadband technology eventually landed him at IBM.

There he revolutionized professional sports– literally– introducing owners, coaches, and league officials to the possibilities of interactive digital media. Touch-screen scoring, now standard for the NHL and NBA, was the brainchild of Moses.

These days, he's happily shelved his tech life to make wine with Kluge (though the phone still rings with organizations such as the Democratic National Committee, thirsting for a drop of his media savvy).

The couple originally were introduced at a board meeting for NYU's Tisch School of the Arts. Moses smiles, "I was flirting like crazy because I'd been single for 15 years."

They were married two years ago at the Kluge Estate chapel.

Moses admits that entering the wine industry was a change. "I mean, I knew nothing about farming," he says, quickly adding, "but a tremendous amount of business basics applies whether it's farming or manufacturing widgets."

Governor Mark Warner clearly agrees: He named Moses to the Virginia Winegrowers Advisory Board last November.

Moses' daughter Kristin believes her father has a unique edge. "I think his coming to it later in the game and as an outsider offers a fresh perspective to local and state-specific concerns," she says.

Between working to raise the profile of Virginia's wines, and overseeing Kluge Estate's upscale endeavors (2003 to-do list: release 2001 vintage, open Farm Shop, run restaurant), Moses has a lot on his porcelain plate.

But even though he now calls 17,865-square-foot Albemarle House home, his roots keep him real. "The first time my mother came," he laughs, "she walked into the entranceway and said, 'No wonder Billy likes it here– it's just like where he grew up.'"

 

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