The seeds of (Patricia) Kluge’s financial downfall were sown in 1999 when, along with third husband William Moses, she established the Kluge Estate Winery and Vineyard on 960 acres near Albemarle (Virginia). The couple’s plan: Create vintages that would establish Kluge Estate, and subsequently Virginia, as an East Coast mecca for fine wine.
The Kluge Estate Winery quickly won critical acclaim for its bubbly vintages and red-wine blends. Soon Kluge wines were making their way to the dinner tables of society darlings and upscale restaurants. They even graced the menu for Chelsea Clinton’s multimillion-dollar wedding weekend last July.
Patricia Kluge had, it seemed, money to burn. She had been married to billionaire John Kluge, and her divorce settlement included 9,000 acres of prime land up the road from Monticello, a 23,000 square foot mansion, and about a million dollars a year in alimony.
Convinced they were onto something good, Kluge and her new husband borrowed heavily against the property to increase winery production to 50,000 cases a year. Then they couldn’t sell the wine or, after the recession hit, the property itself — which initially listed at $100 million.
Kluge, former lady of the manor, is living in a $3 million McMansion in a subdivision on her former property.
She has, indeed, made a small fortune in the wine business.