Vacation Homes: Virginia Is for (Wine) Lovers

  • Samantha Brooks

Virginia winemaker Patricia Kluge acknowledges that her adoptive home state is no Napa Valley. “We’re not trying to compete with Napa as a wine region,” says Kluge, a British-born businesswoman who has been producing sparkling wine and Bordeaux-style blends since 1999 at her Kluge Estate Winery and Vineyard outside of Charlottesville. “Napa has two climates for wine. We have four. It makes for a much different kind of product.”
 
Like her wines, Kluge’s estate reflects the unique terroir of Virginia’s central region. Winemaking in Virginia dates to the early 17th century, and the Kluge winery is just a few miles from Monticello—the estate of part-time viticulturist Thomas Jefferson—in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Instead of the contemporary or Tuscan-style structures that are common in Napa, Kluge’s 2,000-acre property consists of a collection of traditional Georgian-style buildings, including a chapel, a wine and cheese store, the winery, and her home. This summer, she will complete the first of two dozen additional estate homes that she hopes to sell to people who share her passion for wine.

“You have to love wine to live here,” says Kluge, who will offer the 24 Vineyard Estates in sizes from about three acres to 32 acres. “A typical weekend might include going on long walks, tending to the vineyard, spending time with your family, and attending a private homeowners’ dinner party at the winery. But there’s no golf; there’s no man-made lake for fishing. I’m not interested in building a megaresort.”
 
The properties of most homeowners at Vineyard Estates will be planted with vines. However, an owner’s involvement with the winemaking process can be as minimal as selling his grapes to Kluge, or as comprehensive as bottling and distributing the wine under his own label. Homeowners will be able to enlist Kluge’s staff, including winemaker Charles Gendrot and renowned Bordeaux specialist Michel Rolland, who serves as a consultant to the winery. “For someone who has always dreamed of having their own winery,” says Kluge, “this is a unique opportunity to walk into a turnkey business.”

Kluge is developing the Vineyard Estates one at a time, and she plans, in several cases, to complete a home before offering it for sale. Some buyers, however, will have the option of purchasing land and working with Manhattan-based architect David Easton to build custom homes. Easton, the architect behind Kluge’s home and winery, is designing all of the Vineyard Estates houses, which will range in style from early Virginian and Georgian to American Beaux Arts, Gothic, and early modern. “The point is to blend the homes into the surroundings so that they look as though they’ve always been there,” says Easton, who plans to build a house for himself nearby.
 
Easton’s first Vineyard Estates project, Glen Love, sits on nearly three acres. The 6,300-square-foot, five-bedroom, Georgian-style house has a traditional brick facade, but the interior layout is conducive to modern living, with large bathrooms and closets, a media room, and open spaces for family gatherings. The home, which also features rooftop solar panels, will be available in August for $6 million.
 
Construction of the second Vineyard Estates home will begin this fall, and Kluge aims to have the remaining houses, which will range in price from $6 million to $23 million, completed within the next four years. Her goals, however, extend beyond building a distinct destination for a handful of homeowners. “I want,” she says, “to create a new global wine region.”

Vineyard Estates, 866.789.8463, www.vineyardestatesonline.com

Photo by Jim Fets
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