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Donald Trump buys Kluge Estate Winery and Vineyard

American business mogul Donald Trump has added a winery to his property portfolio, snapping up the 314-hectare Kluge Estate Winery and Vineyard in Charlottesville, Virginia, for US$6.2 million – around a tenth of its estimated value before the recession – at a foreclosure auction last Thursday.

"I’m really interested in good real estate, not so much in wine," Trump said. "This place had a US$28m mortgage on it, and I bought it for US$6.2m. It’s a Trump deal!"

Trump is to keep owner and personal friend Patricia Kluge – whose second husband, television magnate John Kluge, was the richest man in America when they were married in the ‘80s, and her current husband, former IBM executive William Moses, on to oversee operations at the winery and utilise her “great instinct for wine”, but reportedly plans to rename the vineyard and put his name on the labels.

“We plan on running it as a vineyard and continuing its use as a winery,” Trump spokesperson Jason Greenblatt told Charlottesville local paper The Daily Progress.

Meanwhile former owner William Moses told the paper: "We’re pleased that Mr Trump wants to keep the winery and continue to make high quality wines.”

Todd Haymore, Virginia’s secretary of agriculture, told the Washington Post: “It appears Mr Trump has taken the first step toward making Virginia wine.

“We believe if he’s successful, he’ll help take Virginia wines to greater heights.”

The auctions are the latest chapter in Kluge Estate’s financially troubled history. Farm Credit Bank foreclosed on the winery after the owners couldn’t sell enough wine to meet their US$34.8m financial agreement. The bank bought the property for US$19m at auction last December.

Kluge Estate produced more than 30,000 cases of wine a year, which were distributed in 15 US states.

The winery deal keeps Trump in the headlines, as he insists he is seriously considering a run for president as a Republican candidate.

Lucy Shaw, 11.04.2011

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