2013 Rising Star of the Year: Eric Trump

The real estate executive has proven that Virginia’s wines can contend with the greatest around the globe.


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If Thomas Jefferson—who ineffectually tried his hand at viticulture in Virginia during the 18th century—sat down with Eric Trump today and tasted Trump Winery’s lineup, his mind would be blown.

Meritorious méthode champenoise sparkling wines? Bordeaux-style red blends? A bemused expression would likely spread across Jefferson’s face. 

But Trump Winery has proven that the Old Dominion can create wines on par with some of the top offerings worldwide. 

“We entered the wine industry with one goal in mind: to create the best wines anywhere in the world,” says Eric, president of the Charlottesville, Virginia winery and executive vice president of development and acquisitions at The Trump Organization. “I am thrilled by our tremendous success and the fact that we are not only competing, but winning against the finest wines produced anywhere in the world.”

Eric’s rise to wine fame started in early 2011, when his father and real-estate tycoon, Donald Trump, began purchasing pieces of the winery formerly known as Kluge Estate. Kluge was beset with financial troubles, and by 2010, the banks had foreclosed on the property.

In April 2011, the final purchase was made for $7.9 million, which included the estate’s final 776 acres of vineyards, winery equipment and inventory. Eric was appointed president, and the estate was rebranded as Trump Winery.

“Trump Winery is in an incredible location, and being in the real-estate business, we saw tremendous potential in Charlottesville, Virginia,” says Eric. “Ultimately, we are judged on the quality of our wines and on the awards that we have won, and we have been incredibly successful.”

Eric has led the winery to the top of Virginia’s burgeoning wine industry.

In 2012, the estate won “Best of Sparkling” at the Jefferson Cup Invitational. In 2013, it received two gold medals at the San Francisco International Wine Competition and earned 91 points from Wine Enthusiast for its 2007 Brut SP Reserve. 

“Over the past three generations, our family name has been known for setting the gold standard worldwide,” says Eric. “Trump Winery will continue to produce the very best wines, compete in the most prestigious competitions and continue to lead the way for the Virginia wine industry.”

Eric says of earning Wine Enthusiast’s Rising Star of the Year Award, “It is an incredible honor… In looking back at all of our accomplishments over the past two years, most notably the world-class accolades, awards and worldwide distribution, I couldn’t be more proud of our accomplishments. The [award] clearly demonstrates that all eyes are on Virginia, and most importantly, on Trump Winery.” 

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