Tracy Wood Anderson, husband John and their daughters went from wine to chocolate in the heart of Napa Valley. While their ingredients are the bounty of the valley, their vision, presentation and chocolates reflect their love of traditional European chocolate making.
What motivated you to open a chocolate business?
We first discovered Belgian (and French) chocolates in college during a semester spent in Europe. From living on an enormous chocolate bunny for three days in Venice when food money had run out, to literally stopping a London play with our not-so-quiet consumption of some Belgian pralines, chocolate has woven its way through our lives ever since.
We began developing an idea for a chocolate-related product in the early 1980s, but instead chose to devote ourselves to John’s family’s winery until its sale in 2002. During the year or so it took to finalize the sale of the winery, we attended a showing of the movie “Chocolat” and the rest, as they say, is history. The movie rekindled our interest in making chocolate and, after a multi-year period of research and hard work, we opened Woodhouse Chocolate in April of 2004.
Did you have any formal training in chocolate making?
With the sale of the winery, I attended the Barry Callebaut Institute in Montreal, Canada, as well as received confectionery training from Terry Richardson, University of California at Davis. I then spent over two years painstakingly developing my recipes.
Where do you get your inspiration for the different flavors and textures you include in your chocolates?
Inspiration comes from every direction. Meals enjoyed in restaurants, cookbooks, magazines, movies, childhood memories; all are jumping-off points for specific chocolates. Blending sparkling wine gave me a good memory for flavors and the ability to recognize obscure ingredients, which makes realizing my ideas easier.
If you had to describe your product line in a couple of sentences, what would that be?
Woodhouse chocolates are traditional European-style chocolates with a dash of American innovation. They are little chocolate jewels filled with pure luscious flavors.
What is your personal favorite out of all the products you make and why?
Every week I have a different favorite, but if pressed I suppose it would have to be our Pecan Caramel. This one is based on a pecan recipe handed down to me by my mother-in-law. It is a very personal chocolate, based on family memories, and I haven’t tasted one like it anywhere else!
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