Tucked among the shops along highway 99W, Honest Chocolates is one of Newberg’s sweetest secrets. Owner Dana Packard started experimenting with chocolates after a business trip to Switzerland in the 1980s. In the 2000s, Packard and her husband Byron Dooley, left their tech jobs in Silicon Valley and traveled to Napa Valley to learn about winemaking. While Dooley was developing his skills as a vintner, Packard perfected her chocolates and learned to incorporate wine into her recipes.
Honest Chocolates opened in Newberg in 2007 and remains the only storefront chocolatier in Yamhill County. The company avoids shipping chocolates in summertime for obvious reasons. Come September, however, you can order many varieties by mail, or stop by to pick up a box. We ask longtime chocolate dipper Tracy Bentley about flavors, local ingredients and the sweetest part of working in the shop.
How did you learn about making chocolates?
I’d worked at a candy making and cake store in Tigard and had done it at home for years. Two weeks after the store opened, I came here and agreed to work just for the holiday season. I was coming in and dipping chocolates after hours (laughs)—eight and a half years later, I’m still here.
Why “Honest” Chocolates?
Because we use nothing but good ingredients, we don’t add preservatives. We use local ingredients including hazelnuts, eggs, butter and cream. It’s just good, honest, chocolate—and it’s all hand-made, not from a factory. We have a kitchen in Carlton where they make all of the centers and then we finish them onsite.
Which chocolates are the most popular with customers?
Honey Caramels with sea salt, as well as our wine varieties. The owner, Dana, developed a line of wine-tasting chocolates that go well with wines. That was something she really wanted to focus on. We do a lot of custom orders for wineries—we take their wine and incorporate it into the ganache so it pairs really well with the wine.
Do you have a personal favorite?
Oh, I have several favorites. I like anything with hazelnuts in it; we have a peanut butter cup that we add chili oil, so it’s spicy. My newest favorite is the chipotle honey caramels.
What do you like most about your job?
What’s not to like? I’m working around chocolate, how can that not be a good thing? And it’s so much better than working for a big box store; here you really get to know the regular customers as well as talk to visitors coming through town. It’s close to home and just a nice place to be.
For more information, including store locations, visit honestchocolates.com