What do you expect from your weekend? Sparkling cranberry mead with chocolate toffee cupcakes? Ice cider with chocolate covered cider caramels? How about a Rose Red Wine whoopie pie? The Vermont Grape and Wine Council thinks you should have all this and more - they're bringing back their popular Wine and Chocolate Weekend this weekend, February 8th and 9th.
During the Wine and Chocolate Weekend, 15 wineries will invite visitors to come sample wines and chocolate pairings developed with help from local sweets makers (cupcakes, whoopie pies, wine jellies, and caramels are some of the items joining the chocolates). Samples are free; wines and sweets will also be available to purchase for Valentine's Day gifts or just a treat.
Sara Granstrom, of Lincoln Peak Vineyard, first got the idea for this weekend from colleagues in Pennsylvania, who organized a similar event along their regional wine trail. "It's fun to have a wintertime event," she says, "And also a chance to work with local chocolate makers and local businesses."
Lincoln Peak is working with three local chocolatiers from across Addison County to develop their pairings: Middlebury Chocolates, Daily Chocolate, and Farmhouse Truffles. Sara is particularly excited about the twists on traditional flavor pairings that are appearing this weekend. With Farmhouse Truffles, for example, she discovered that a dark chocolate grapefruit truffle pairs well with their Late Harvest white wine - she'd never expected to pair dark chocolate and white wine, but the citrus zing of the grapefruit reflects the citrus notes in the wine, making it a perfect match.
Other creative takes on the Wine and Chocolate theme this weekend include: Rhapsody Ice Wine from Shelburne Vineyard paired with Middlebury Chocolate’s spicy, habanero-laced Chupacabra dark chocolate; chocolates made using local wine such as ice cider truffles from Champlain Orchards and Eden Ice Cider or cassis-filled chocolates from Neshobe River Winery; the debut of a new chocolatier, Cacao Matteo, at Boyden Valley Winery; an entire Latin-themed weekend, with dance party, at Fresh Tracks Winery. New twists aside, there's also the basic rule that whenever you get chocolate and wine in a room together, it is a good thing. And that good thing will be happening all across the state.
Sara says that attendance has been great in the last two years and people are beginning to plan ahead for their annual Vermont wine and chocolate tours. As a self described choco-holic, she's looking forward to many years of this sweet combination.
A full list of participating wineries and what they will be sampling is available on the Vermont Grape and Wine Council's website. The wineries will be open from noon until 5:00 pm, and all tastings are free. Can't make it this weekend? Check out the place profiles linked from this post or browse the Wineries & Distilleries section of our Places page. Want to see these places on a map? Check out the Wine & Chocolate Weekend Trail.