Trump Unveils Another Trophy Property
This morning, Donald Trump cut the ribbon on his latest lavish project, Albemarle Estate at Trump Winery, outside Charlottesville. The mogul and Republican presidential candidate turned the podium in front of his pastoral palace into a soapbox, criticizing the US government for its trade deals and promising “to make America great again.”
The Trump Organization bought the 1,300-acre property around the estate for $6.5M—including the vineyard, now the biggest on the East Coast—but the house, built from 1981 to 1984 for Patricia Kluge, was purchased later. The Donald boasted that the initial asking price was $100M, but he didn’t want to pay that much, so he bought all the land and the roads around it. When the seller asked for $40M, “I bought even more roads.” He said he wound up paying $6.5M for the house.
Once he purchased it, Trump named his son, Eric, as president of Trump Winery, and the company poured $20M into turning it from a somewhat rundown private home to a 10-guest room, ultra-luxury bed and breakfast. The rooms range from $350 to $1,300 a night, and the entire estate can be rented out for a wedding.
Sitting on top of a hill just a few miles from the estates of presidents James Monroe and Thomas Jefferson, Albemarle Estate is the newest facility on Trump’s sprawling winery. There were already the Barn, the Pavilion and Grand Hall on a separate part of the estate, which hosts hundreds of weddings a year.
The estate itself is opulent, completely redone with a fitness center, a movie theater, a spa, an English garden (pictured), a pool, indoor and outdoor hot tubs, an antique Steinway grand piano and a 1760 chandelier. Eric Trump said Albemarle, designed by architect David Easton, “will be the most coveted boutique hotel there is.”
The day was not only about the estate, however. After giving local dignitaries, including Virginia Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry Todd Haymore, a tour, Trump sat down with about a dozen reporters, hammering the US government for having “incompetent negotiators,” claiming every trade deal the US has “is a bad deal.” He said he expects to release his personal financial disclosure report in the next few days, and the number is “going to be more spectacular than anyone expected.”
His recent comments alleging Mexico deliberately exports violent criminals as illegal immigrants to the US prompted chefs Jose Andres and Geoffrey Zakarian to renege on their deals to put restaurants in Trump’s upcoming hotel in the Old Post Office Pavilion. Trump continued to defend and reiterate those comments, and said he is in talks to replace Andres and Zakarian with other top-tier chefs in Trump International Hotel when it opens next year. Andres and Zakarian “left massive deposits and have personally guaranteed the rent,” he says. Holding court with the gathered press, he said the chefs just wanted “publicity for themselves,” which is why they are paying thousands—maybe millions—to not operate restaurants in Trump’s downtown hotel.
The DC hotel will open next year despite the controversy, joining Albemarle Estate as pieces of Trump's rapidly growing empire. The winery itself produced six wines that took home prizes in the San Francisco International Wine Competition last week, including a double gold for the 2009 Blanc de Blancs sparkling wine. He's out in front of the Republican field, according to the most recent Huffington Post national poll.
Trump’s name is on everything he does, from the wine he produces to the helicopter he rode in on, down to the bottles of water he gave his guests in the 90-degree Virginia heat. And, as of today, Trump’s name is on yet another glitzy property, sure to draw attention no matter what; just like its namesake.