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Sweet success

Shady Cove Candies works for transplanted S.F. Bay Area couple

If it were as simple as marketing the view out the back door, Shady Cove Candies might already be one of the more popular candy makers around.

There's little doubt in Jane Rees' mind that her product is a winner; an engraved silver tray from the 1981 California State Fair attests to that. Thus, the quest for the recent start-up is to find acceptance with Rogue Valley wineries and retail outlets.

Rees produces five basic product lines: fudge, English toffee, peanut and cashew brittle, truffles (both liqueur and plain) and dried fruit clusters dipped in chocolate.

A Shady Cove bakery was ready to sign on, but as Rees points out, bakery temperatures and chocolate don't necessarily mix well. The company's Pasture Patties, a concoction of dark chocolate, walnuts and dried Oregon cherries, are available at Brite Spot Cafe II, along the small town's main drag.

The company is making a big push to be ready to sell its goods at Alba Park during the Pear Blossom Festival on April 9, and then at The Taste of Ashland, April 23-24.

— Actually, Rees and her husband, Bud, weren't going to dive into the chocolate and candy-making scene so soon.

I was going to give us a year to write a business plan, see the lay of the land, get settled in and so forth, Rees admits. Then, Just for Fun Bakery opened and I told them 'I'm a candy maker, are you interested?' and they said 'Absolutely.'

At that point, Rees got busy identifying suppliers and preparing what she refers to as alpha and beta releases.

I wanted to get an idea of what products we can do by volume, she says. The 'alpha' was for family and friends at Christmastime, and then we did a 'beta' release in January, taking samples around.

Rees says she first toyed with the idea of producing chocolate items during the 1970s, but was deterred by the rules for domestic kitchens in Saratoga, Calif.

I was looking for ways to leverage my fabulous crop of apricots into something that could be given for Christmas gifts, she says. As I explored candy making, I began to discover there's a chemistry involved.

Instead, She went to work for the Guittard Chocolate Company in Burlingame, up the peninsula.

A lot of candy is made with chocolate-flavored coating, instead of the real thing like Hershey bars, Rees says. Guittard Chocolate is what companies like Harry and David and Sees Candies use. Guittard paid me to go into little mom and pop stores and upgrade their candies.

She later taught candy making in California's two-year colleges and adult education classes.

When Bud Rees retired from Component Distributors Inc., in Sunnyvale, Calif., last year, the couple moved to Shady Cove, where they had earlier bought a home along the river.

We've found that Oregon is hugely hospitable to cottage industries like ours, Rees says. We came here for the Rogue River, but support here has been an added bonus.

A photo taken from the back of the Reeses' house serves as the company's packaging label.

The picture wasn't taken with that intent, she says. But we were struggling with how to label the product and Bud pulled it out of the archives.

They plan to have their Web site ' ' up shortly after the Pear Blossom Festival.

For mail-order info, call 541-878-2111.

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Jane Rees of Shady Cove Candies prepares milk chocolate fudge to be served as samples at the Pear Blossom Festival. Mail Tribune / Jim Craven - Mail Tribune Jim Craven