At first, Erich Buchmann, the grandfather of a my friend, the Austrian signer and actress Dalal Buchmann, didn’t want to drive us to the Zotter Chocolate factory. He was persuaded when we told him he could taste unlimited amounts of chocolates. He was packed and in the car before we even got out of the shower!
The Zotter factory is located about an hour north of Graz, in the shadows of the great Riegersburg castle. The inventor is Josef Zotter, thus the name. Zotter has been in LOVE with chocolate for more than 20 years. This guy also loves crazy ideas, unique creations and to rebel against mainstream.
The Zotter factory has been opened since 2006. His mantra is to keep it different, simple and organic.
This philosophy has paid off since “throughout Europe he is the only manufacturer who produces chocolates starting from the bean (bean-to-bar) exclusively in organic and fair quality!” Everything is done under one roof.
As you enter the chocolate wonderland you are given a fancy glass tasting spoon. Then you are led into a movie room with bras of all kinds swinging from the ceiling. After a few minutes of these rotating cups, a film starts telling you about Zotter and the factory. Then the tasting begins!
Eating Chocolate in Austria
Dalal warned her grandfather and me to take it easy in the first few rooms because there were plenty more rooms to come. But did we listen? “Nooooooo” We just kept dipping our spoons endlessly into the flowing chocolate fountains. It was like being in the Willy Wonka factory.
Room by room, mouthful by mouthful, we weaved our way through mounds of chocolate. There is one caveat though, you can taste as much as you want, but you cannot take samples with you. (Trust me folks they have you under video surveillance) Now, I’m not going to squeal and say who in our bunch tried to walk out without taking notice of these signs and was promptly asked to put the chocolate back!)
After a while I only tried various samples, but Grandpa Erich was like a bottomless pit. He tried everything two and three times! We actually were afraid he was going to explode. He had this intense kid-like concentration, like he had found gold and was trying to get every ounce! Mind you, there are over 300 different chocolate creations, at 16 different tasting stations!
And when I say EVERY type of chocolate I mean it! They had “hemp-mocha” (yes you read that correctly), bacon bits & chocolate, pumpkin & chocolate, chili and chocolate, on and on. In addition, they have chocolate samples from every country in the world!
By the end of the tour I weighed two pounds extra, but it was well worth it. Grandpa Erich on the other hand had a bellyache. We laughed hysterically…he said, “I can never eat chocolate again!” Of course that didn’t stop any of us from stocking up in the gift shop to share with family and friends.