In 2004 Rachael Louw and her husband, Francois were on a mission - to open their own bakery. They had just started looking for local bakeries for sale when a friend told them about a chocolate business for sale. That business was 'Tomfoolery Serious Chocolate' and included in their range of hand-made chocolates was a product line called 'Peel & Pour', these were real full 750ml sized bottles of wines and champagnes dipped in chocolate.
Rachael reflects, "We were definitely intrigued by this pairing of wine and chocolate! My husband and I had lived in London, Cape Town and had travelled extensively throughout Europe and we had never heard of anything like it. However we both enjoyed wine, Francois had graduated from Stellenbosch University, which is surrounded by world class wineries. Living in London and working in Harrod's I had been exposed to some of the best French, German and Italian wines available. Not to mention chocolate, I LOVE chocolate! Living in the UK we had Cadburys of course and being on Europe's doorstep, Swiss, Belguim and French chocolates were standard imports in the the UK, we were spoiled for choice!" So undaunted, they decided to buy Tomfoolery, keeping the chocolate products AND building up their own custom cake business at the same time. They changed the company name to Sweet Traders as they felt it better captured the essence of their business and forged bravely ahead!
"Looking back now, it was a crazy time, we had 6 months of intensive chocolate training; learning chocolate tempering, mastering the technique and art of hand made chocolates, learning chocolate molding and chilling techniques, as well as learning how to pair wine with chocolate. We uncorked varietal after varietal, Cabernet's, Syrah's, Malbec's, Merlot's, Chardonnay's, Pinot Noir's, Champagne's, the list goes on and on, it felt like information overload but it definitley gave us a much greater appreciation of wine makers and their craft as well as the importance of having good quality chocolate with a high cocoa content. "
Rachael admits, "Even with 15 years of pairing wine and chocolate we are still increasing our knowledge, the wine industry is evolving. Wine makers are becoming more and more creative, yes, single varietals are still cherished but blends are increasing in popularity and wine makers are embracing this, Red Blends in particular now line store shelves and rank right up there with Cabernet Sauvingon's, Pinot Noir's, and Syrah's. Being able to pair these wines with chocolate and then pass this knowledge on to our customers through our range of Peel & Pour wines is very rewarding, not to mention they're getting such a unique product, it's a chocolate and wine gift that's both cool and trendy!"