Forget the $6 million man. Try the $6 million “cottage.” Vintner-socialite Patricia Kluge completed one such 6,000-square-foot structure on her Blenheim Road property last month and the luxury subdivision it heralds, Vineyard Estates, promises bionic proportions of its own.
Start with the marketing (which, right now, is the bulk of what’s under consideration, given that 23 of the other “estates” Kluge intends to add to her 2,000-acre parcel aren’t there yet). In two months, Kluge’s project has been in the Robb Report, that Bible of luxury living, The Washington Post and The New York Times, where Kluge revealed, in one of VE’s few unscripted moments, a decidedly plebeian side of the development (“we’re not doing this for poetry,” she reportedly said, on the subject of lowering her real estate taxes). Which is to say nothing of VE’s marketing, which includes ads in Wine Enthusiast and a two-page spread in The New Yorker’s recent Food Issue. Kluge spokeswoman Kristin Moses Murray anticipates ads in Departures and Centurion, too, where they’ll reach “those who travel and seek the finer things,” Murray says by e-mail. Add a 14-minute online video that invites you to “awaken to America’s Eden,” meaning Carter Mountain, and you have the full-court press of luxury promotion.
The marketing for Vineyard Estates “is designed to sell a lifestyle, rather than a home,” in the words of Patricia Kluge’s publicist.
The concept: two dozen giant “turnkey” homes, priced between $6 million and $23 million, situated on 511 acres around Albemarle House, what vineyardestatesonline.com calls Kluge’s “family seat.” (This project is being built by-right, following county planners’ rejection of a 2003 proposal that would have configured the houses somewhat differently.) Included among the amenities are a round-the-clock concierge service and the option of cultivating “private label” wine with assistance from Kluge Winery personnel. All this and more, the British-born Kluge promises in her regal accent, will support a lifestyle of “emotional comfort.”
And as if the link among prospective deep-pocketed wine enthusiasts and the grand lady herself were not enticement enough, the great man is trotted out to cinch the deal, America’s first wine snob and Albemarle’s most famous neighbor, Mr. Jefferson. The online brochure even depicts a view from Monticello, promising that a view from VE will be identical.
In the 20 years since she moved out of her ex-husband’s adjoining mansion and into her own, Kluge has rarely detoured from her ambition to build a brand (the recent shuttering of Fuel, her bistro-gas station concept that failed to sweep the nation, let alone the corner of Market and Ninth streets, doesn’t seem to have thrown her). Indeed, she declares she will build her winery to one of the largest on the East Coast and her wines, like VE, were covered by national media when they were young. Plus, with wine consumption spiking nationally and the sliver of ultrarich Americans getting richer, Vineyard Estates may well be communicating the right message at the right time. As spokeswoman Murray puts it, the “marketing is designed to sell a lifestyle, rather than a home.”
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