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THE CHARLOTTESVILLE ALBEMARLE CONVENTION & VISITORS BUREAU CELEBRATES THE GRAND OPENING OF
GEARHARTS FINE CHOCOLATES' NEW FLAGSHIP LOCATION

Gourmet Chocolate Shop Houses Eat-in Café, Private Event,
and Educational Space


CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (December 1, 2015) - The Charlottesville Albemarle Convention & Visitors Bureau is proud to announce the opening of Gearharts Fine Chocolates' new flagship location. Gearharts moved from its original space on West Main Street in Charlottesville, where it opened its doors as Virginia's first gourmet chocolate shop in 2001, to a new location next to Staples on McIntire Road (at 243-B Ridge McIntire Rd).

Gearharts is hosting a public open house today, Tuesday, December 1, at its new location. Visitors are invited to stop to view the space and sample its signature chocolates, as well as its new line of pastries and beverages.

The new shop was designed specifically with its loyal customers in mind. It offers an eat-in café that includes its signature chocolates, plus a new line of pastries and beverages, as well as a space for private events and educational and cooking classes. The café seating is located next to large windows that open into the production room, so customers can watch the chocolates being created as they relax and dine.

"A space like this is a dream come true," said Chocolatier Tim Gearhart. "We wanted to enhance the Gearharts experience for our loyal customers and new visitors. There's nothing like this in the area; we're hoping it becomes as much of an attraction as the wineries and breweries in town."

Gearharts' pastries are all original recipes containing its signature Valrhona chocolate that is custom made for Gearharts in France. A sample of the pastries offered at the new location include a ganache tart adorned with edible flowers, candies and fruit; chocolate croissants; chocolate cinnamon babka; and a decadent chocolate cake so delicious it's yet to be named. Tim trained in pastry at The Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, and also worked as the pastry chef at Hamiltons' at First & Main before opening Gearharts Chocolates. Three other staff members also are professionally trained pastry chefs.

Beverages served at the new café range from coffee, lattes and cappuccinos to hot teas and, of course, gourmet hot chocolate. The new specialty drink is of Italian origin - Il Bicerin, molten truffle topped with espresso and steamed milk, creating three beautiful layers served in a glass mug.

Kurt Burkhart, Executive Director for the Charlottesville Albemarle Convention & Visitors Bureau (CACVB) conveys his excitement about Gearharts' new location. "Gearharts' excellent reputation extends way beyond the Charlottesville area and the state of Virginia; this new location will allow locals and visitors to enjoy a unique experience centered around chocolate, making it the perfect complement to the portfolio of outstanding culinary assets our destination showcases," said Burkhart.

About Gearharts Fine Chocolates:

At a time when ingredients like cardamom, chilis and fresh herbs simply weren't found in American chocolate, a globetrotting chef dared to dream of an artisanal chocolate shop in the South. Tim Gearhart began his journey to chocolatier by wandering the world through its kitchens. He toured the Far East as a Marine Corps cook, trained in pastry at the Culinary Institute of America, and then honed his craft everywhere from an English castle to a Western dude ranch. Inspired by his travels and eager to craft chocolates that reflected them, he returned home to Virginia to set up shop amid Charlottesville's emerging food scene.

Emboldened by the confidence of a fellow chef and former boss, Tim launched Gearharts Fine Chocolates with Bill Hamilton in 2001. Outfitted with a small office kitchenette, and armed with only two forks and a bowl, Tim hand-dipped about 700 pieces of chocolate a day during that first holiday season.

While their need to create more than 13,000 chocolates a day has since forced the mechanics to change, the recipes and handcrafted nature have remained. Fusing its own blend of the world's finest chocolate with local sweet cream and pure butter, Gearharts continues to craft its original 16-piece signature line, while also forging new territories along the path they helped blaze. They temper their affection for tradition with their desire to surprise, and work hard to ensure that every piece carries the care that went into it.

Nearly 15 years in, Gearharts remains committed to the purity of its flavors and the integrity of its nationally recognized products. The company combs the globe for the very best it has to offer, and crafts its world-class chocolates in the heart of Virginia.

The company is headquartered in Charlottesville, Va., with a second location in Richmond, Va. Products are available for retail, wholesale, corporate events and weddings, and also are sold online. For more information, visit www.gearhartschocolates.com.  Press inquiries:  Mary Beth Bowen, (804) 519-5779

Marybeth@mbpr-marketing.com.

 


About the Charlottesville Albemarle Convention & Visitors Bureau (CACVB):

In addition to serving as the global resource for marketing the tourism assets of Charlottesville and Albemarle County, Virginia, the CACVB assists tour operators, meeting planners, reunions and other groups in planning visits to the destination.  CACVB's mission is "to enhance the economic prosperity of City and County by promoting, selling and marketing the City of Charlottesville and County of Albemarle, as a destination, in pursuit of the meetings and tourism markets."  CACVB operates the Downtown Visitor Center (610 E Main St) which is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and a second visitor center, the Albemarle Tourism and Adventure Center downtown Crozet (5791 Three Notch'd Rd), as well as a touch-screen kiosk at Monticello's Thomas Jefferson Visitor Center.  The official website of the CACVB is www.visitcharlottesville.org.  In addition, the organization manages powerful social media channels such as, ExperienceCharlottesville on Facebook, @VisitCVille on Twitter, CVilleVA on Pinterest, and @CharlottesvilleVA on Instagram and Vimeo.