Wine not? County okays Kluge's gourmet fare

Not everyone welcomed a gourmet outpost in rural southern Albemarle County. One of Patricia Kluge's neighbors complained that the wild mushroom and goat cheese tarts and French pastries she serves in the Kluge Estate Farm Store were not in compliance with Albemarle's zoning regulations, and that her wine tasting room was actually "a gourmet restaurant disguised as a farm store."

County administrators have determined that it's okay for a farm store to be gourmet.

In a July 17 letter to Bill Moses, CEO of Kluge Estate Winery and Vineyard (and Kluge's husband), zoning administration manager John Shepherd opined that the farm store did not constitute a restaurant because the food was not advertised separately and that it in fact complements the wine.

He also cites Afton Farm Market, which has an area for food sales and consumption with the county's blessing.

Moses is glad to put the issue to rest. "We could have done a pure wine tasting room," he says. "We wanted to do something better: a pairing of food and wine that we learned from Robert Mondavi."

And in linking wine to tourism, he says, "It's important to take in regional cuisine."

Kluge's complaining neighbors may not be convinced that an espresso bar is an improvement over the traditional roadside stand. "Unfortunately, a couple of neighbors would prefer that nothing happen in their backyards," says Moses.

The rest can enjoy gourmet takeout without having to travel to town.



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