Portand, Oregon’s Woodblock Chocolate Manufactory is the creation of husband and wife team, Charley and Jessica Wheelock. Jessica and I met while working together at Martha Stewart. So many creative people have worked or work at MSLO and Jessica is certainly one of them! They wanted to start a sustainable business so they decided on manufacturing chocolate. Charley, who has a background in industrial design, took classes, they both read books, researched beans and processes. They started the business in their home kitchen; they experimented and tweaked their chocolate process much like a wine maker would. Becoming experts in their craft of bean to bar chocolate, Jessica and Charley use only cacao and pure cane sugar. Now in a larger space not far from their home in Portland, they sort through every cacao bean, which they travel the world to find, select only the best and roast them in a 1910 drum roaster. Through patience and artisanship (they tell you all about the interesting process in depth on their site-down to wrapping each bar by hand) this husband and wife team have started a thriving business for their family of two young children. When I asked Jessica how they balance the business with two kids Jessica replied, “The lucky thing about running our own business is that although we are overwhelmingly busy, we are flexible. We plan our days around our kids schedules and try to find ways the kids can participate when needed. Probably the most difficult thing to do is to not always talk about chocolate. We have to be aware that the business (talk) can creep into and take over our conversations at the dinner table. We try to spare the kids from shoptalk and it requires a concerted effort!” Though when I asked Jess what they personally do with the sack of roasted beans which is included in their gift box she said, “We like to put them on ice-cream, yogurt, smoothies- eat them right out of the shell.” Now that’s a childhood I would love to have! (and don’t worry, a card with suggestions is included in the gift box)
Woodblock currently offers 4 different flavored bars: Madagascar, Venezuela, Salt (using Fleur de Sel) and Salt & Nibs. YUM! Just in time for the holidays you can order online– 10 bars for $45, 25 bars for $100 or their gift box for $85, all with free shipping. These are great stocking stuffers, favors, gifts for co-workers or for the foodie on your list. I mean really- who doesn’t love chocolate? And the best part is Woodblock is made with love in the USA by two very talented, detail obsessed- chocolate obsessed people! Congratulations Charley and Jessica!
All photos courtesy Woodblock Chocolate Manufactory/ Personal pictures of Charley & Jessica Wheelock and the beans by photographer Leela Cyd Ross.