Mar 082014

courtesy Wine Country Chocolates

Indulge that chocolate craving and sample some of the finest truffles, dark chocolates and delightful chocolate concoctions. Wine Country Chocolates’ mother-daughter team have created a tasting room with sampling privileges. Truffles are their specialty so come in and sample such delights as  Kahlua-Irish Cream, Amaretto, Cabernet Sauvignon-infused chocolate and Boysenberry with Blackberry Honey. What makes them different? According to owners Betty and Caroline Kelly, “While traditional style truffles are rolled, Wine Country Chocolates truffles are formed, pressed, and then enrobed in a layer of dark chocolate. We push the limit on creaminess.”

Wine Country Chocolates is located in Jack London Square in Glen Ellen, with a second location off the Sonoma Plaza at 414 First St. Treat yourself today! (707) 996-1010 •

If chocolate is your life, Viva Cocolat in downtown Petaluma should be your destination. Bringing together premium chocolates from chocolatiers around the world, Viva Cocolat offers its patrons a choice from the best of the best. With a broad selection of chocolates, truffles, gifts, and novelties, you can find the chocolate to fit any occasion, mood, time of day, season or reason. relax with a treat of chocolates or desserts and an espresso, tea or smoothie from Viva Cocolat’s Chocolates and Dessert Cafe. Or have a romanitc evening over Chocolat Fondue! Want to learn more about chocolate? Chocolate Tasting classes offer the experience to taste different types, regions, chocolatiers, and varieties of chocolates to appreciate the subtle nuances and flavors. Chocolate Pairing classes further develop the complementary flavor combinations to find the ultimate flavor union of food and beverages. For those who like hands-on crafting experience, Chocolate Crafting sessions allow you to make your own chocolate creations.  110 Petaluma Blvd. N, Petaluma. 707-778-9888. •

Lynn Wong, chocolatier and proprietress of Viva Cocolat

Sonoma Chocolatiers, in the central Sonoma village of Sebastopol, creates luscious hand-made chocolates, using organic and sustainable natural ingredients. Their dark chocolate indulgences include over 55 truffles, around 30 silky-smooth caramels and 13 chocolate bars and Nibbles.

“We’ve considered changing our name to ‘Oh-My-God Chocolates’, since that’s the most common reaction we get,” claims partner and Chief Chocolatier David Gambit. David and wife, Susan opened Sonoma Chocolatiers in 2008, in conjunction with Infusions Teahouse, where over 100 organic teas and light meals are served up in a relaxed, Bohemian atmosphere.

David, whose prior career was in international environmental policy, says “Whenever possible, we use locally produced ingredients: the dairy and cheeses are made locally; the chilies, herbs, honey and wines are local; the nuts and many of the fruits are grown in California. The bags we use for our chocolate covered nuts are made from recycled wood and are compostable. We focus on the flavor of the fine chocolate. We do not add sugar to our truffles—the sweetness of our dark chocolate truffles comes from quality organic fruits, nuts, spices, wine, liqueurs, and the small amount of sugar already in dark chocolate. It costs a bit more, but every ingredient we add to our chocolate is certified organic or grown organically, if an organic version is available. To minimize the impact of producing chocolates, we have installed all LED lighting in our production and retail facility to cut our lighting power use by about 90%.”

Their diligent work has paid off with accolades. They were voted “Best of the Bay Chocolatier and Candy/Chocolate Shop” by The Bohemian newspaper.They invite you to come and watch through the window as they create their amazing chocolate.6988 McKinley Street Sebastopol. (707) 829-118. •

In beautiful downtown St. Helena you will find what House Beautiful magazine describes as “The best kept secret in chocolate is this little artisanal candymaker… Try a box of dominoes…”. An intimate family business, Woodhouse Chocolate was also featured in Oprah Magazine’s “Favorite Things” list in 2011.

The careers of founders Tracy Wood Anderson and John Anderson inevitably collided in the candy business. While Tracy was immersed in the food arts at the California Culinary Academy (after a stint at Domaine Chandon), John learned to recognize and evaluate fine and decorative arts of the last 500 years at a Christie’s Fine Arts Course in London.

Between trips to Europe, Tracy earned a culinary degree, John and Tracy had two daughters and both helped John’s parents create a winery and vineyard of the highest quality, producing award winning Chardonnay, Cabernet, Merlot and most personal of all, Sparkling Wines. Nearly twenty years later, that part of their souls that needed to make wine was fulfilled and they decided to retire from winemaking.

They filled that hole with their true love… chocolate.

As Chocolatier, Tracy now creates the unique flavors and inventive expression of their confections. Her mother, Chris Wood, lends her culinary arts expertise, while daughters Christina and Caroline mind the store. John Anderson does “everything else”. “We use only the highest quality, freshest nuts, cream, butter and spices we can find and put them together in our own unique way while honoring traditional flavors and techniques,” explains John. The Andersons invite you to stop in to their elegant store on St. Helena’s Main Street, and see for yourself what the fuss is all about. Try the Champagne Truffle! 1367 Main Street  St. Helena. 707.963.8413. • 

Woodhouse Chocolates

At Anette’s Chocolates by Brent, the sister-brother team is going on two decades of working together, creating award winning confections, truffles and sauces, as well as brittles, creams, and unique seasonal specialties. Anette’s has two locations just blocks apart in Napa, one at the culinary Valhalla known as Oxbow Market, the other the original location on 1st Street in Downtown Napa. The original location was also a chocolate/candy store. In fact one the siblings frequented the shop when growing up in this area. When they bought the store 18 years ago, Master Candymaker Ed Ratcliff agreed to stay on and pass down some recipes. What you get today includes many of those tried and true recipes, some over 70 years old, along with some new concepts and techniques created by Anette, Brent and Brent’s wife Mary (who focuses mainly on wholesale activities).

While Anette’s offers a broad selection of treats (over 120 altogether), they focus today on Truffles, utilizing a custom blended combination of Callebaut and E. Guittard, as well as lots of real wine in their wine infused sauces. If wine and chocolate pairing are on your list of things to do, chances are good that you will be served Anette’s chocolates at one or two of the local wineries. Stop into either of their Napa locations and meet the crew.1321 1st Street Napa. (707) 252-4228. •

With flavors such as red wine, fennel pollen, earl gray, and coffee kahlua, the truffles at the recently debuted Kollar Chocolates are almost impossible to resist. The tiny shop, located inside Yountville’s V Marketplace, opened in late 2011 and has drawn major praise for its inventive spin on sweets. An open kitchen enables visitors to watch owner Chris Kollar craft his savory white-chocolate poppy seed-and-saffron bars, as well as bright-red raspberry twists. On hot days, the gelato, delivered weekly by an artisanal producer in nearby San Rafael, is pretty darn good, too. 6525 Washington Street, Yountville. 707.738.6750. •

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