Wines, vines, and a new Trump lodging in Charlottesville

Carol Timblin

Invited guests and members of the press anxiously awaited the arrival of Donald J. Trump for the opening celebration of Albemarle Estate near Charlottesville in mid-July. Suddenly, his helicopter circled the mansion before landing on a pad at the bottom of the hill. Waving to the crowd, he disappeared into the mansion and then reappeared minutes later on the front porch with his son Eric and state officials.

“I am honored to officially unveil the Albemarle Estate at Trump Winery,” Trump said just before cutting the ribbon. “This magnificent hotel, situated on over 1,300 incredible acres right next to Monticello and Ash-Lawn-Highland, has been transformed to the highest standard of luxury and five-star service — there is truly nothing else like it,” he added in typical Trump fashion.

Artists tour charlottesville
Randy Bill’s pitcher is among the works to be found on the Artisans’ Studio Tour in the Charlottesville area.

Eric Trump, president of Trump Winery, added: “I am absolutely thrilled to officially open what will undoubtedly become the best boutique hotel in America. When combined with our incredibly sought-after and award-winning wines, we have created the ultimate destination on the East Coast.”

Trump sparkling wine was served to guests as they entered the front door for a tour of the 26,000-square-foot mansion and its luxurious guestrooms. Designed by architect David Easton and constructed for Patricia Kluge and her late husband, John Kluge, during the early 1980s, the classic Georgian-style mansion is considered “one of American’s true treasures.” Located on a site originally owned by Robert “King” Carter, the house and surrounding gardens were inspired by Palladio’s Villa Rotunda in Vicenza, Italy — as was neighboring Monticello.

The dining room, where guests are served breakfast, features a 22-foot-high hand-carved plaster ceiling, antique English rococo mantel with ornate gilding, and hand-painted wallpaper. The living room is equally stunning, with its 1760 hand-blown Waterford crystal chandelier, 18th-century marble mantle, and antique Steinway grand piano. The English oak library has a large-screen TV, surround sound, billiards table, and bar.

Guest rooms feature king beds, Italian marble bathrooms, Bellino linens, flat-screen TVs, Nespresso beverage machines, in-room safes, plush bathrobes, and Trump bathroom amenities. Five suites are located in the mansion and four suites in the pool house — all named for U.S. presidents except the William and Mary Suite. (The rustic log cabin also houses guests.) Guests are encouraged to enjoy the gym, indoor sauna and hot tub, outdoor pool and hot tub, private movie theater, croquet lawn, and gardens. The average beginning rate is $309.

“We just want (guests) to feel welcome, feel relaxed,” said Derek Hunt, director of hospitality. “Honestly, from the moment they pull up in our driveway to the moment they leave, we just want them to feel like they’re at home.”

With 195 acres planted in vines on Carter’s Mountain, it is Virginia’s largest winery. It produces a variety of sparking, red, and white wines using traditional and innovative winemaking techniques. A two-time winner of the Monticello Cup, Trump wines have also earned national and international gold medals. Tastings are offered at the Trump Tasting Room for $10 per person and include a Trump Winery logo Riedel wine glass. (


The Monticello Wine Trail

The Monticello Wine Trail includes 29 other wineries in the Charlottesville area that have been inspired by Thomas Jefferson’s vision of winemaking. (

Thomas Jefferson and Filippo Mazzel established a vineyard on land adjoining Monticello in 1774. Though their efforts were not successful, there is a vineyard on the same site that bears Jefferson’s name and produces award-winning wines today. The region has been voted one of the “Top 10 Best Wine Travel Destinations” by Wine Enthusiast and one of the top five destinations in the country by Luxury Travel.

This fall is an ideal time to explore the trail and enjoy some of the events taking place at various wineries. A sampling of events includes:

  • Eats & Beats at Keswick Vineyards will take place Oct. 10, 17, and 24. The vineyards will also host Around the World in a Glass: Wine 101 on Oct. 16 and Wine Down with Chamomile & Whiskey on Oct. 21. (
  • On Oct. 17, Jefferson Vineyards will host the Sunsets Become Eclectic Music Concert featuring Bryan Elijah Smith & The Wild Hearts, an alternative band from Dayton, Va., that performs up and down the East Coast and in Australia. The concert is free with a wine purchase. (
  • On Oct. 24–25, Barboursville Vineyards has scheduled an Autumn Vertical Tasting. The event, which costs $35 per person and requires no advance reservations, focuses on older vintages — along with a traditional sampling of new Octagon from the barrel — and also features award-winning artisan cheeses from Caromont Farm and fresh breads from Palladio Restaurant. The site includes the ruins of a home designed by Thomas Jefferson. (
  • Trump Winery is offering a harvest celebration, Nov. 1–2, with a tethered hot air balloon ride, plus an afternoon of live music and wine at the Trump Winery Pavilion. A gourmet picnic menu is available for pre-order and wines will be available by both the bottle and glass. A special cocktail of cru and spiced apple cider is an option. (


Williamsburg Area Events

This fall, the Williamsburg area offers a plethora of activities.

Williamsburg Fall Arts continues through Oct. 18, featuring more than 130 special events. Visitors are invited to experience a variety of arts experiences, ranging from gallery crawls to symphonic concerts, in James City County, York County, and the City of Williamsburg. (

Howl-O-Scream at Busch Gardens in Williamsburg promises plenty of thrills and frights this Halloween season, with the addition of three new haunted houses: “Unearthed – Scarlett’s Revenge,” from the producer of “The Blair Witch Project,” “Cornered,” and “LumberHack.” Other haunted houses include “Bitten,” “Catacombs,” “Cut Throat Cove,” and “Deadline.” Visitors can also enjoy five “Terror-tories,” three live shows, themed dining, shopping, and behind-the-scenes tours. Howl-O-Scream continues Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays through Nov. 1. (

The 2015 Williamsburg Harvest Celebration, Nov. 11–15, takes visitors and culinary enthusiasts on an authentic gastronomic journey that started more than 400 years ago and honors the land used to shape our nation and the culinary lifestyle found in the kitchens of America. Visitors are invited to eat, drink, and learn at 40 culinary-inspired, all-things-Virginia events featuring chefs, farmers, artisans, foragers, authors, brewers, winemakers, and culinary historians. The event is a collaborative effort involving the City of Williamsburg, James City County, York County, and the Williamsburg Winery, overseen by the Greater Williamsburg Chamber and Tourism Alliance. (


Elsewhere in the Mid-Atlantic

Items Left at The Wall: The Virtual Collection is an online collection of items left at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial and cataloged by the National Park Service. (

The memorial was built in 1982, through the efforts of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund, to honor Vietnam veterans and to heal the wounds of a nation. Now, the organization is seeking financial support to build an education center at The Wall to teach future generations and honor America’s legacy of service.


Kudos to the nation’s oldest city

Birthday wishes to St. Augustine, Fla., which turned 450 last month.

The oldest continuously inhabited European city in America, founded by Pedro Menendez de Aviles on Sept. 9, 1565, threw a big festival that featured national recording artists, historic reenactments, and fireworks. Catholic archbishops from across the U.S. and Cuba attended the commemorative mass, an important part of the celebration, and King Felipe VI of Spain came to St. Augustine for the U.S.-Spain Council International Summit. (

Carol Timblin welcomes travel news at



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