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Who We Are
Our company reflects our values. What we buy and what we make affects the world that we live in and in which our children will raise their children. We buy a lot of different kinds of products to make chocolates—cream for truffles; bags for our chocolate-coated nuts; energy for our lights; sugar for our caramels. At Sonoma Chocolatiers, we want our choices to help create the kind of world we’d like our grandchildren to live in. So we carefully choose every item we buy to help create as healthy a world as we can.
It costs a bit more, but if we can find an ingredient that is produced without “conventional” methods, we always choose the non-conventionally grown option (for example, chambord liqueur is only available as a conventionally-grown product.) We are applying for our California Organic Processed Product Registration so we can identify exactly which ingredients meet that standard.
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. Other bags would be prettier, but the cost to the environment to use them is not worth the fleeting aesthetic gain. Our printed boxes are custom made in the USA from recycled material.
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%. The LED lights also create so much less heat that we need less air conditioning. We are exploring using solar panels to at least run our air conditioning system. In 2016 we will identify what we need to do to have a carbon-neutral energy foot print.
As in every business, our success depends on our employees. Our lowest salary is over 12% above minimum wage: as we grow, our priority is to increase all employee salaries. Although we are too small to be able to pay health insurance for all employees, we do offer group rates for a range of supplemental insurance options, such as critical care insurance and income protection for all employees.
We continue to look for more ways we can decrease our impact and improve the lives of our employees. We’re always open to suggestions of how to improve, if you have any to share.
What We Do
With over 55 truffles, nearly 30 silky-smooth caramels, and 13 chocolate bars and Nibbles, and many other indulgences, we believe we have something to fulfill every chocolate desire. And we come up with new treats regularly. Even our traditional-flavor truffles are a cut above. Like our Mint Truffle—made from peppermint and not simply peppermint flavoring, we use 75% cacao chocolate to ensure the mint compliments but doesn’t mask the chocolate. And our Dark Chocolate comes in 4 forms, from 62% cacao, to 85% cacao with cocoa nibs (for the truly devout Dark Chocolate lover.)
We do not skimp on the cream and butter, and both are organic. The fruits, teas, spices, nuts, cheeses, herbs, flavorings…everything we add to the chocolate is organic or grown following organic standards*.
We use local sources whenever they’re available. Our cream and butter are from the local premium creamery, Clover Stornetta. The best chilies we can find are grown in Sonoma County by Tierra Vegetables: they are grown and processed following organic procedures – no pesticides, herbicides, or non-organic fertilizer—but they are not certified organic. All the cheeses we use are from local artisan cheese companies. All wines and herbs are from Sonoma County. We use a local honey, but it is not legal in CA to claim any honey is organic.
Have fun choosing the flavors and form that suit your fancy.
(Become a Fan of our Facebook page and receive monthly discounts to help you try our new flavors.)
(*except the liqueurs, some of the wines, and the local cheeses.)
How We Do It
Sonoma Chocolatiers is a small, family-run artisanal chocolate company in Sonoma County, in the heart of California’s wine country. We create unexpected and traditional, luscious hand-made chocolates created with organic ingredients and that win awards and accolades. We are here to provide you with the finest dark chocolate indulgences available.
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. Our flavored solid chocolate bars and Nibbles have more than a mere hint of flavoring, but never so much that it masks the chocolate.
David, our Chief Chocolatier, made chocolates for fun for over 20 years before making chocolates as a career. Before being a chocolatier, David worked in international environmental policy and conservation and his wife, Susan, was a psychotherapist in Washington, D.C. We decided to move to Sonoma County in mid 2007 to raise our young daughter in a healthier environment.
We started Sonoma Chocolatiers in February, 2008. We have a lot of fun creating new flavor combinations, finding new ways to make the chocolates look good, and watching the reactions of customers as they bite into one of our chocolates the first time. We considered changing the name to Oh-my-god Chocolates, since that’s the most common response we hear.
We have fun making the chocolates.
We hope you have fun eating them.
Sonoma Chocolatiers is part of Infusions Teahouse. Infusions offers well over 100 organic teas, (we believe it is the largest selection of organic teas from San Francisco to Seattle), and light meals at a very relaxed pace–we move at the pace of tea.
The chocolate kitchen is inside the teahouse–we invite you to come watch us make chocolates through the window into our kitchen.
We hope to see you there some time.