Zotter Chocolate Factory

Last week we learned that a Real Live Willy Wonka lives right here in Austria.

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This was the best chocolate tour ever!  Hershey and Perugina, we love you, but it really isn’t even close.

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Mr. Zotter’s chocolate factory sits high on a beautiful farm in southern Austria, with a restaurant, petting zoo, and a guided tour explaining how chocolate is made, starting with cocoa beans in South America.  The tour literally includes all the chocolate you can eat and drink, plus cocktails and tasting rooms with cocoa beans from different countries.  Mr. Zotter is one quirky and interesting guy, who has made his dreams come true by seeing life through a slightly different lens.

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In the tasting room, an elaborate pulley system is rigged up over the windows so you can try the different kinds of chocolate bars as they roll by.

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There was also a bar for drinks.  You pick a chocolate bar and the barista melts it down into hot cocoa right in front of you, as many times as you want.  There were at least 30 different kinds of chocolate bars, although at some point I stopped keeping track.  Here is Jake, bellying up to the bar.

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It was amazing that they really did let you taste and drink everything, until we were sugar-buzzed and sick!  We couldn’t help thinking of Augustus Gloop.  This picture in front of the chocolate fountains was taken before we entered The Chocolate Coma.

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Our tasting spoons were imported from Equador, where Zotter has developed a sustainable partnership with cocoa farmers who are interested in making money on something other than drugs.   His chocolate factory, his art, and his investment in real life are a truly Fair Trade human enterprise.

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This place was so impressive it’s hard to capture in words and pictures, but we all felt like we’d witnessed some sort of genius.

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It inspired one of us to go home and dream himself.

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And I guess that’s the point of genius.  To inspire and to dream, that maybe, we are something wonderful too.

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