Kluge Estate Winery Sold at Auction

Bank is only bidder for Virginia estate in foreclosure; wines will be sold Saturday

by Linda Jones McKee
Charlottesville, Va.—By 12 noon on Dec. 8, seven bidders had registered for a much-anticipated auction in Charlottesville. Despite the efforts of Patricia Kluge and William Moses to find additional investment capital, the Kluge Estate Winery and Vineyard went on the auction block. In 15 minutes, it was all over. Farm Credit of the Virginias, the lien holder on the property, made an opening bid of $19 million, and there were no other bids.

In 2007, Kluge and Moses decided to expand the winery into national and international markets, and obtained a loan for $34.785 million from Farm Credit. Last October, Farm Credit foreclosed on the loan and scheduled the auction. A total of 906.6 acres of land, including 164 acres of vineyard, the Kluge Estate Farm Shop tasting room, wine production buildings, vineyard and winemaking equipment, six employee houses, a 34,000 square-foot former carriage museum and offices were all part of the sale.

The acting trustee for the bank, William Shmidheiser, III, indicated that Farm Credit will continue to look for a buyer for the property. Whether it will remain a vineyard and winery will depend on the ultimate purchaser.

Approximately 15,000 cases of Kluge Estate wine will be auctioned Saturday, Dec. 11, in Madison, Va. Only organizations with a valid Virginia state ABC license will be permitted to bid.

Kluge Moses Science Building

In 2005, Kluge and Moses donated $1.2 million to Piedmont Virginia Community College in Charlottesville, toward construction of a new science building. At the time, theirs was the largest single gift the college had received, and when the building opened on Sept. 16, 2010, it was officially named the Kluge Moses Science Building.

When the financial difficulties of the Kluge Estate Winery and Vineyard became apparent in October, many in the wine industry were concerned about the status of the Kluge-Moses pledge to the college. In November, Mary Jane King, director of institutional advancement and development at Piedmont, stated that half of the pledge has been paid, and that the college has been assured by Moses that the remaining $600,000 will be paid over the next five years.
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