Presidential contender Donald Trump has nabbed a winery in the shadow of Thomas Jefferson's Monticello. The Kluge Estate Winery and Vineyard in Charlottesville, Virginia, went to foreclosure auction yesterday and fell straight into his manicured paws.
Apparently The Donald has been buying up little bits of land down south from cash-strapped socialite Patricia Kluge, who he's known since they were in their twenties. Kluge netted $15 million in her divorce from late billionaire John Kluge, who was at one point the richest man in America. She got the idea of being a world-class winemaker and "spent lavishly on about 200 acres of chardonnay, cabernet sauvignon and other types of grapes and hired a famous wine blender, Michel Rolland, from Bordeaux, France, to mix her wines," says the Washington Post.
The winery won prizes and good reviews, but she and her current husband, former IBM exec William Moses, "gained somewhat controversial reputations in the close-knit wine industry, with some vintners sniping that the two were rich self-promoters." (Uh-oh, sounds like Trumpy isn't going to make friends easily, especially when he plans to keep Kluge and Moses on as winemakers.)
Expanding the business during the recession got Kluge into a tight spot, so she listed her English-style manor, Albermarle House, for $100 million. Trump is reportedly interested in that too, but so far has purchased only the 200-acre front lawn.
Of the vineyard sale, the Post says:
Kluge — a statuesque Brit ... — did not attend the auction at her former property, where a garden party atmosphere reigned. Her former neighbors and farmhands came to watch the proceedings, sipping sparkling water and noshing on tiny ham-filled biscuits as the auctioneer bellowed. Some of them even brought their dogs.
Trump, who is suddenly second only to Mitt Romney in one GOP presidential poll, seems to be riding high off this whole "race to the White House" thing. He gave Post writer Annie Gowen several quotes, which, put together, form the following yay-me monologue: "It's only Trump. Everything is Trump! ... I'm really interested in good real estate, not so much in wine. This place had a $28 million mortgage on it, and I bought it for $6.2 million. It's a Trump deal! ... That's why I'm Trump!"