Take a bottle, shake it up

  • 0 COMMENTS

Three months after the bulk of the Kluge Estate Winery & Vineyard sold at auction for $6.2 million, Donald Trump has his name attached to a part of Albemarle County. His son, Eric, has a wine business to call his own, and has begun to spruce up the new Trump Vineyard Estates, slated to open in September according to a spokesperson. And former owners Patricia Kluge and Bill Moses, who appeared in federal bankruptcy court last week, have new titles, salaries and a list of liabilities that is 10 times greater than their assets.

According to documents connected with the couple’s bankruptcy filing, creditors claim roughly $47.5 million in liabilities, ranging from $228 for elevator repair services by Kone, Inc., to a $19.8 million judgment favoring Bank of America, lienholder on the couple’s Albemarle House mansion. Of the total liabilities, $30.5 million are unsecured claims, meaning they are not tied to collateral. Bill Moses declined to comment for this story.

Those liabilities far outpace the pair’s assets, which include a $450,000 condominium in Morocco, a $5,000 “miscellaneous wine collection” and two dogs valued at $500 apiece, and total $2.6 million. The documents also detail member interests in the couple’s multiple limited liability companies, including split 50-50 shares in Fuel Co., Kluge’s foreclosed boutique gas station-bistro. The Fuel Co. building on East Market Street sold at auction last Thursday for $580,000—more than $200,000 below the opening price.

Moses and Kluge are currently employed as “vintners” by Eric Trump Wine Manufacturing LLC. After taxes, the two make a combined monthly income of roughly $15,000. However, monthly expenses of $22,000 put the couple at a $7,000 net loss each month.

Jason Greenblatt, Executive Vice President with the Trump Organization, said the pair will be “actively involved” with the Trump operation.

“Patricia on the wine manufacturing process, Bill on the growth of trying to expand the reach of the Virginia wine market into other states and around the world,” says Greenblatt. “They’re going to be working extremely close with Eric Trump, who’s extremely hands on with the property.” Greenblatt added that Trump bought the former Kluge farm shop from Loudoun County developer Sal Cangiano, for an amount comparable to Cangiano’s $420,000 purchase at the April 7 absolute auction.

In March, Gregory Brun, former Kluge Estate director of vineyard operations told C-VILLE that the Albemarle winery is a “significant operation.” At the time, Brun was serving as Chief Operating Officer for Grand Cru Properties, a limited liability company formed to manage the business until Trump purchased it at auction. If the operation was not preserved, said Brun, “that would be bad for me, for the team, and for the wine industry here in Virginia.” Greenblatt says Trump has not reduced the number of positions, and hopes to open the estate in September.

Washington, D.C.-based bankruptcy attorney Kermit Rosenberg said he hopes to help Kluge and Moses “merge their debts and get a fresh start,” but did not offer further comment. He also declined to speak about the couple’s $1.2 million pledge to Piedmont Virginia Community College (PVCC) to help build the $11.4 million Kluge-Moses Science Building, which the school said last year was half-paid. According to court documents, the couple’s liabilities include a $480,000 pledge to PVCC, which Kluge and Moses dispute. Last November, a PVCC spokesperson told C-VILLE that the couple contacted the school and confirmed their intent to pay the remainder of the pledge.

Comment Policy