Has the “Perfect Storm” Claimed Kluge Estate?

For the past few weeks, rumors have swirled around the twittersphere
that Kluge Estate winery was in trouble. Such rumors are not unusual, as
Patricia Kluge has her detractors, who seem intent on undermining her
effort to produce high quality Virginia wine on her estate south of
Charlottesville. But this time, despite denials from the Kluge folks,
the rumors were too specific, too detailed to ignore.

Late Friday, William Moses, Kluge’s husband and CEO of the winery,
issued a statement that was at once an acknowledgement of troubles and a
defiant vow to stay alive. It isn’t posted yet on the winery’s website, so I’ll paste it here in its entirety:

Kluge Winery Statement October 29th0001
This
is sad news for the Virginia wine industry. Kluge has made a major
investment, including hiring famed flying winemaker Michel Rolland as a
consultant. There have been missteps, to be sure – most notably charging
more than $60 for their New World Red blend, which now sells more
reasonably under $30. Consistency has also been a problem, as winemakers
have paraded through over the winery’s ten years. But the Kluge Estate
wines, including the SP sparkling and the Albemarle viognier and rose,
have generally been very good, and have achieved good distribution.
Kluge and Moses have also been vocal advocates for the Virginia wine
industry. This winery’s collapse could send the message that Virginia is
not a good market for wine investment, even as the overall quality of
the wines improves to impressive, world-class levels.

So what will happen now? Moses’ reference to the banks trying to
“dismantle” the property is most alarming – rumors that I have not been
able to confirm (Moses was not available for comment late Friday) have
the banks threatening to rip out the vines and sell off the property for
housing lots. Others have a high-profile investor (the “promising
partners”?) interested. The news stories, speculation, and gossip are
only just beginning. As Moses says, stay tuned …

This entry was posted in Current Affairs, Eastern US, Local Wine, Virginia, Weblogs, Wine and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Has the “Perfect Storm” Claimed Kluge Estate?

  1. Todd says:

    This is another reminder that a winery and vineyard are a business
    enterprise. Not only must they craft wine or grow grapes which are
    marketable, but they must plan and make economic decisions just like any
    other business.

  2. Destcellars says:

    This is too bad. We’ve certainly had winery partners of ours all over
    the world facing incredible challenges and our hearts go out to them.
    We really believe it’s very difficult to position yourself as a leading
    winery in a very crowded space.
    Last statistic we heard, “Over 250,000 different wines offered in the
    United States”. Incredibly challenging to compete for shelf space,
    cellar space and especially when you’re in a “growing and developing
    market” such as VA.
    Hope things turn out for the best

  3. Doesn’t sound too hopeful, given the latest twists. The banksters are
    definitely playing hardball. See this update from the local
    Charlottesville paper, “c-ville”:
    http://www.c-ville.com/index.php?cat=11431101084614805&ShowArticle_ID=11100111103995321

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