The Trump Organization, headed by business mogul and potential presidential candidate Donald Trump, bought the bulk of the Kluge Estate Winery & Vineyard at auction last week. While The Donald didn’t make a personal appearance, a team of business advisors purchased more than 700 acres, along with the old and new vineyards, the winery, labels and trademarks for $6.2 million on his behalf.
“We plan on re-establishing it as a vineyard, which I think will be important for the Virginia wine industry,” said Jason Greenblatt, an executive vice president for The Trump Organization. He said that organization will likely work with former owners Bill Moses and Patricia Kluge “to try to establish a first-class winery.”
Trump, said Moses, is “interested in bringing back the quality.” He added that both he and Kluge are “very gratified that he’s of that mind, and we hope we can help him.” Greenblatt said that the winery will likely continue to use the Kluge name on many of its wines, but also added that the Trump brand “is very valuable.”
Held in the winery’s wooden event pavilion, the auction attracted area developers, realtors and residents, who sipped sparkling water or soda as they watched Trump’s representatives and a few others swap bids. Moses appeared early, left, and returned for the latter half of the auction, where he swapped clandestine messages with Trump’s representatives. His wife, Patricia, did not attend. However, Moses called her to notify her of the auction result.
The Kluge Estate Winery & Vineyard was the largest of a trio of foreclosures that rocked Kluge and Moses during the last year. In January, locally based Sonabank purchased the couple’s unrealized luxury development, Vineyard Estates, at foreclosure auction for $4.9 million—well below the bank’s $8.2 million loan. One month later, Bank of America foreclosed on Albemarle House, the couple’s 45-room mansion and the subject of a $22.6 million lien, and later bought it back at a foreclosure auction. Albemarle House is assessed at $16.5 million.
So far, auctions have failed to raise adequate sums to cover the banks’ interests in the Kluge properties. Farm Credit of the Virginias, which holds a $34.8 million lien on the winery, foreclosed last year and bought the winery back at a foreclosure auction in December for $19 million. Moses told reporters that he hoped to see the bank receive as much as possible from the auction.
“The more the bank recovers, the less we owe them,” said Moses. “We still have a very significant deficiency judgment against us.”
Sal Cangiano, a Loudoun County developer who previously sold nearly 3,900 acres in the Richmond metropolitan area for $39 million, bought roughly 120 acres for $1.1 million. One lot, totaling 21 acres, may be subdivided into five lots; another includes the winery’s farm shop. Cangiano said that he knew Patricia Kluge’s late ex-husband, John, when the former couple met. Asked about his interest in the property, Cangiano did not elaborate, but said that he “thought this would be fun.”
Trump also recently purchased a 217-acre lot from a trust named for John Kluge’s son, for roughly $300,000. The lot stands in front of Albemarle House, Kluge’s former residence.
Trump is reportedly interested in the other foreclosed Kluge properties, including Albemarle House. At the moment, however, Greenblatt says that the price of the mansion is “way too high.”
“We’ll be happy owning the front lawn,” he said.