Carpe Vino Invades Raffinè, a Newcastle Chocolatier


I knew I was impaired, but that didn’t stop me from getting on my Vespa for the short ride home.  The price for overindulging was overwhelming. . .I felt light-headed, my stomach churned and my hands trembled.

I should have known when to stop, but though I was surrounded by a dozen co-workers, no one tried to take my keys.  I suspect that’s because everyone had a buzz on. . .after overdosing on chocolate for 90 minutes at Raffinè in Newcastle, Carpe Vino’s new source for tasty delights of all manner. . .chewy caramel, creamy ganache, fancy nuts and more, all chambered in exquisite Swiss chocolate.

Owners Mona and Jim Keady invited Carpe Vino’s staff to their shop last Saturday in Newcastle (at the Indian Hill Rd. exit adjacent to Denny’s) for a tell-all session about the sweet science of everything chocolate—from harvesting and processing beans to crafting incredibly scrumptious treats.

Mona & Jim

Mona is the artisan in the handsome new kitchen, crammed with expensive chocolate-making equipment.  She trained for more than 18 months at prestigious chocolate academies in France and Belgium before returning home and opening her first chocolate shop in San Ramon.  After a lengthy remodel, they reopened up in Newcastle in 2013.

Though they have an awesome retail shop, the Keady’s are focusing their business on wholesale clients—hence Jim’s visit to Carpe Vino to Carpe Vino last year.  It didn’t take much to convince Drew to start selling Raffinè chocolates.  We’ve got five different selections that can be ordered at the wine bar and online, plus we acquired a small refrigerator to store the chocolates at the perfect serving temperature: between 60 and 68 degrees.

The highlight of our visit was being herded into the kitchen to make chocolate turtles.  Mona had molds lined with chocolate all ready for us.  We added a dollop of caramel, squeezed on a layer of chocolate and then gently pressed in a perfect pecan.  After they were chilled briefly, we removed them from the molds and divided them up to take home.  Each person was also given a package of samples and was invited to take home pretty much whatever they wanted.


We also were indoctrinated about all of the types of Raffinè chocolates we offer at Carpe Vino.  We learned how they were made and we got to taste them all.  Just another day at the office. . .talk about sating your inner Willy Wonka!

So, next time you visit the Friendly Confines, don’t be surprised if one of our staffers recommends the chocolate.  They’re addicted!

Whatcha Selling?

Raffine “Wine Lovers” Chocolate Confections Nine Piece Tasting Assortment – $14.50/box  Consisting of Espresso, Palet d’Or and Cabernet (3 pieces each)

Raffine Palet d’ Or & Cabernet Ganache Quartet (4pk) – $9.75/box (2 pieces each)

Raffine Cabernet & Dark Chocolate Ganache (w/white chocolate shell) Quartet (4pk)  – $9.75/box (2 pieces each)

Raffine Caramel Ganache & Caramel Fleur de Sel Quartet (4pk)   –  9.75/box (2 pieces each)

Raffine Palet d’ Or Ganache & Caramel Fleur de Sel Quartet (4pk)  – $9.75/box (2 pieces each)


Chocolate is like wine and must be stored properly.  Per the Keady’s recommendation and your satisfaction these chocolates are kept in a temperature controlled unit set between 60*F-68*F.


gary, Drew & The CV Crew