With Trump Winery and the Albemarle Estate situated on a massive 1,300-acre plot south of Charlottesville, some Central Virginians may have more ties to the Trump family than they’d like. Others take advantage of it.
Robert Harllee, owner of the Market Street Wineshops, tells the story of a liberal couple who visited his store in search of a bottle of Trump Winery’s award-winning sparkling wine. Their mission after checking out? To give it to their liberal South Carolinian friends as a joke.
“Yes, there are liberals in South Carolina,” Harllee says and laughs, adding that Trump is brilliant at making himself the topic of conversation and doesn’t mind bad publicity. As for stocking his shop, Harllee doesn’t let his personal feelings against a certain presidential hopeful get in the way of doing business.
“Personally, I might tell Mr. Trump he’s fired,” he says, but he knows the people who make Trump wine and says “they make a great product.”
Kerry Woolard, Trump Winery’s general manager, says in-house sales are up about 300 percent, with online sales even higher. She doesn’t necessarily attribute this to The Donald, but to how good the wines are.
“I look at this as a great opportunity for us and Virginia wine as a whole,” she says. “It’s clear that more people know about Virginia wine today than ever before.” As for the number of people staying at Albemarle Estate, she says its July ribbon-cutting coincided with the beginning of Trump’s campaign, and the estate has been featured with five-star reviews in national publications, so it’s hard to pinpoint exactly what’s driving the visitation.
When people step into the tasting room of Trump Winery, they speak kindly of Trump, if at all, she says. After all, they’re there to drink what Trump Winery President Eric Trump calls “the finest wines in the world,” not to talk politics.
Employees, Woolard says, are fans of the family that owns the winery, and she calls Eric an amazing boss, leader and mentor.
“All the staff appreciates what he has done saving the property from its state of total disrepair,” she says. “Prior to [Donald] Trump purchasing the property, many of the staff had been laid off and were looking for work.”
C-VILLE Weekly asked its Twitter followers about their opinions on Trump wine. We received two responses.
Benjamin Randolph says, “I refuse to drink Trump wine. I don’t want him to profit in any way from my actions,” and Johnny Frankenberger tweets he “would never consider” drinking it.
Trump Winery President Eric Trump calls his company’s wines “the finest in the world.”