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A Winemaker Turns to Chocolate

America's first artisan chocolate manufacturer, SCHARFFEN BERGER Chocolate Maker was founded in San Francisco in 1997.

Our History

America’s first contemporary artisan chocolate manufacturer, SCHARFFEN BERGER Chocolate Maker set out to craft the richest, most flavorful chocolate by sourcing the best cacao in the world, blending it in small batches, and gently processing it to maintain the subtle flavors in the beans.

SCHARFFEN BERGER Chocolate Maker was founded in San Francisco in 1997 by chocolate connoisseur Robert Steinberg and winemaker John Scharffenberger. Steinberg was a family doctor diagnosed with lymphoma in 1989. It proved to be a life-changing experience, and he decided to dedicate himself to his passion for fine food, settling on chocolate making in 1994. His ultimate goal was to deliver the very best chocolate from the finest beans nature had to offer, which he did until his passing in 2008. John Scharffenberger’s entrepreneurial spirit, successful business background, and astute palate complemented Steinberg’s skills. The pair tested multiple combinations before perfecting a unique blend that highlighted the true flavor of cacao instead of masking it with sugar and other flavors. The result is an array of truly distinctive chocolates with balance and complexity—not unlike those found in exceptional wines.

As the first American “bean-to-bar” chocolate manufacturer in over 50 years, SCHARFFEN BERGER Chocolate Maker led this country’s contemporary resurgence in artisan chocolate-making. It was also the first chocolate maker to label their chocolate with the percentage of cacao inside.

The Hershey Company acquired SCHARFFEN BERGER in 2005, with an iron clad commitment to upholding the SCHARFFEN BERGER tradition of crafting the world’s most authentic, high-quality and flavorful chocolates. Greater buying power, more effective outreach to cacao farmers and enhanced funding for developing sustainable resources worldwide have been among the many positive results of the acquisition. Co-founder John Scharffenberger is known the world over as a leading chocolate expert and is still active with the company today.

Today, SCHARFFEN BERGER Chocolate Maker travels the world to source the finest cacao. We select the best beans from small sustainable farms in fabled cacao-producing countries. Of the more than 150 samples we taste each year, only a select few are chosen to become SCHARFFEN BERGER Chocolate.

This artisan process, honed with a wine-maker’s attention to craftsmanship, results in the richest, most flavorful chocolate you’ve ever tasted.