We visited the controversial, award-winning Trump Winery in Charlottesville -- and it was a shockingly good experience

Hollis Johnson
  • President Donald Trump’s son Eric runs a vineyard and winery in Charlottesville, Virginia.
  • The Trumps bought it in 2011, but a legal disclaimer on the winery’s website says that they do not currently own it.
  • The wine is quite good, having been essentially unchanged since before the estate was purchased.

Trump Winery, which is run by the president’s son Eric, has received backlash following some of President Donald Trump’s controversial political stances and actions. In February last year, there was a movement backed by a local chapter of the National Organisation for Women to boycott Wegmans for selling Trump wine at Virginia locations.

President Trump bought the property in 2011, but according to a legal disclaimer on its website, he does not currently own it.

Trump Winery is “a registered trade name of Eric Trump Wine Manufacturing LLC, which is not owned, managed or affiliated with Donald J. Trump, The Trump Organisation or any of their affiliates,” the disclaimer reads.

While on a recent trip to Charlottesville, we decided to pay Trump Winery a visit.

Considering our lacklustre experience at Trump Grill, our expectations weren’t too high when we visited. But, we went in with an open mind. Here’s what we found:


The Trump Winery — originally the Kluge Winery, which was bought by Trump in 2011 — is located in the rolling green hills outside of Charlottesville, Virginia, minutes from another more historical presidential estate, Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello.

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The tasting room sits off a winding country road in the midst of the winery’s many rolling acres. Like many of the area’s plentiful vineyards, it’s a popular tourist destination and hosts many weddings.

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As we walked in, we noticed a familiar plaque from the American Academy of Hospitality Science. The award plaques also adorn the walls of other Trump properties — the head of the organisation, Joseph Cinque, is a longtime Trump acquaintance. Sometimes described as a “small-time mobster,” Cinque has previously been convicted of possessing stolen property.

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Source: Chicago Tribune


The tasting room is only open until 4 p.m., so we showed up thirsty for an early afternoon drink.

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The interior is spacious, bright, and rich with dark woods. A chandelier overhangs the tasting counter.

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Trump Winery has four main wines: a blanc de blanc, a rosé, a blanc de noir, and a cru.

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The wine tasting experience offers four wines for $US12, with an option to pony up more for more varieties. The first wine we tasted was the blanc de blanc. It’s a very pleasant, light, dry white with mineral notes and a sparkling effervescence.

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Next up was the chardonnay. It’s an enjoyable wine, fruitier and heavier than the blanc de blanc with an oaky, buttery finish, but it was nothing outstanding.

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The rosé, however, stands out from the pack. This is a dry rosé that has no airs; it’s something that you can bring to the table and please most, if not all, tastes. It avoids the sickly sweet stereotype while still bringing a fruity, summery drinkability that fans of the trendy pink drink crave.

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Trump Winery’s cabernet sauvignon is a welcome surprise: a red that’s suitable for the summer while still holding its own against more full-bodied reds. It’s not as heavy as one might expect, which gives it a versatility that can last all year long.

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For around $US3 extra, we decided to split a taste of the port-style Cru fortified chardonnay. At 18% ABV, it’s a different beast. The bouquet is heavy and sweet, laden with pineapple and caramel — but upon first sip, it wasn’t the sugar bomb we feared. It’s sweet, for sure, but it’s balanced by a subtle smokiness that answers to the burnt caramel aroma.

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Videos promoting the winery — especially as a wedding venue — played on loop above the counter. Eric Trump, who runs the winery, was prominently featured. However, Eric excluded, talk of politics was avoided.

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Our waitress was friendly and chatty, providing insight into both the wines and the property.

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Trump acquired the estate in 2011. By buying the land surrounding the estate’s mansion and discouraging access to it, he was able to drive the asking price down from $US100 million to $US3.6 million.

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Source: The Wall Street Journal


While Trump has claimed that the property is “the largest winery on the East coast,” it is not so. Still, at 1,300 acres (200 acres of vines), its size is nothing to scoff at.

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Source: PolitiFact


In the hazy distance stands the Grand Hall, the wedding venue attached to the vineyard, and the Albemarle Estate, an extravagant Georgian mansion that is part of the Trump Hotels portfolio.

Hollis Johnson

Considering Trump Grill’s mediocrity, we weren’t sure what to expect from Trump Winery. However, the wine was more than serviceable; frankly, it was quite good. The winery’s winemaker has been on the job since 2006 — before Trump purchased the estate — and his expertise is evident.

Hollis Johnson

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