Virginia wine is everywhere and now it's in your chocolate.
Just last week the website VinePair named Virginia "the most exciting place for American wine right now," while 30 Virginia wines won gold medals at this year's Governor's Cup. Over the weekend, it made its way into Gearharts Chocolates' new Pod & Vine Virginia Wine Chocolate Assortment.
Tim Gearhart might've been ahead of the curve when he launched his first Pod & Vine chocolate over one year ago, using Barboursville Vineyards' Cabernet Franc to create the rich ganache center of the truffle-like confection. Gearharts released the collaboration, the crowd went wild and, over the following months, interest in our state's vines only grew. He wanted to take it further and involve other wineries.
"We were looking for the right partners for the other two vineyards, so we were really careful," he says. "We really took our time."
Eventually, the Gearharts team settled on Jefferson Vineyards' Petit Verdot and King Family Vineyards' Port-style "Seven," adding two more varieties to the Pod & Vine line.
Gearhart tells me this on Saturday at the Virginia Wine Expo, where he released his new Pod & Vine limited-edition assortment of nine chocolates for $18 per box. He's surrounded by wide-eyed Wine Expo attendees vying for a space in front of the Pod & Vine samples, and for good reason— they're delicious, slick and perfectly balanced.
The secret, he tells me, is replacing the ganache's cream with wine, carefully emulsifying using a slow, hand-whipped method. From there, they add complementary ingredients such as plum preserves and currants to help the fruit tones pop, or hazelnuts and vanilla in the case of King Family's Port-like flavors.
"It's a little bit different than our other chocolates that you probably have had before," he says. "Those are all cream based with lots of butter. These are a little more delicate, a little softer, which kind of lets wine be the focus."
Gearharts Chocolates' Pod & Vine assortment is currently available at Gearharts locations in both Richmond and Charlottesville.