By Susan McKee
Chocolate is a good reason to travel – especially in February. Whether you prefer your chocolate hot, liquid and topped with marshmallows, or as a dark and flavorful coating for a yummy ganache filling, there’s a chocolate event to meet your taste.
What about pairing your chocolate treats with red wine? There are festivals for that.
The Vermont Grape & Wine Council has a Wine & Chocolate Weekend scheduled February 9 and 10, taking place at wineries across the state. The wines, of course, are locally produced, but so are most of the sweet treats.
The Chocolate Wine Trail in Hermann, Missouri, involves sampling wine and chocolate at seven different stops February 16 and 17.
A flight of five wines, paired with chocolates, is promised February 14 at Breaux Vineyards in Virginia.
On the other side of the continent, Lake Chelan Wine Valley in Washington State likes red wine with chocolate so much they’ve set aside two weekends – February 9 and 10, and February 16 and 17 – for guests to experience the pairings.
A Pinot & Chocolate celebration takes place at Willamette Valley Vineyards in Oregon February 16 and 17. The winery’s small-lot Pinot Noirs will be paired with handcrafted chocolates.
“Death by Chocolate” is promised (one hopes not literally) by the downtown merchants of Appleton, Wisconsin, February 9. Amongst the candies and desserts, there are several just for the over-21 crowd, including O’Fallon Cherry Chocolate Beer, Chocolate Bourbon, Chocolate Martini, and Chocolate Candy Cane Shot.
Bethlehem, Pennsylvania’s Chocolate Trail is open February 9. A Chocolate Festival takes place for the 16th year February 16 in Eureka Springs, Arkansas. A Chocolate Festival is set for February 17 at Moosehead Lake in Maine.
A “Home Sweet Home Chocolate Festival” takes place February 23 in Muskogee, Oklahoma. Chocolate that is “Out of this World” is promised at the “Chocolate on the Beach” Festival February 21 through 24 in Pacific Beach, Washington.
If you’re looking for something more exotic, think South America. Chocofest 2019 takes place April 11 through 21 in Nova Petrópolis, Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil.
If the timing or location of the chocolate fests isn’t to your liking, it is possible to have chocolate adventures year ‘round, of course.
Hershey, Pennsylvania, is perhaps best known for “Chocolate Town”, with everything from informative tours to silly rides. Visitors can even create their own candy bars. The chocolate tasting experience is led by flavor experts who “show you how to engage all senses to taste chocolate – from milk to dark and all the varieties in between”.
The Caribbean island of St. Lucia has a chocolate legacy going back to the founding of the cocoa industry there in the 1700s. August is Chocolate Heritage Month, but any time of year you can take chocolate tours at three different plantations still producing chocolate.
Across the pond in the United Kingdom there’s Cadbury World in Bournville, Birmingham, England. Details of creating Cadbury treats are explained in a special-effects cinema presentation. Visitors watch Cadbury World chocolatiers demonstrate traditional chocolate-making skills and can have a chance to practice tempering.
One of my favorites is the Chocolate Museum in Cologne, Germany. Located not far from the iconic cathedral, the Schokoladenmuseum Köln is a glass-and-aluminum building constructed around a former central customs office on the Rhine River. Exhibits outline the past and present story of cocoa and chocolate around the world. A production facility and workshop area show how chocolates are created. Don’t miss the chocolate fountain, where warm, liquid chocolate flows from four stainless steel spouts into a fountain bowl.
Belgium is known for its chocolate. In Brussels, the capital, you can take a Groovy Brussels Chocolate Tour. During a 2-1/2 hour stroll through town you’ll learn about – and taste – chocolates from five of “the most beautiful chocolate shops.”
For more foodie events, attractions, and tours, check out Road Trips for Foodies