From water district to confections

July 10, 2003 11:00 pm

By SUNNY LOCKWOOD

Life is sweet these days for Simon Granville.

The former general manager of Calaveras County Water District has exchanged district controversies for candy.

He said he's always liked candy, especially the round, polished chocolates with nut or fruit centers that are called "dragee."

When he left his CCWD post in January 2002, after the stress of the Darby Fire and a series of disagreements with the district board, he turned his attention to treats.

"I just broke down all the elements of what was needed to start the business," he said. "I researched on the Web, got the necessary licenses from the county, and experimented with candy recipes and how to put it all together. It's all been trial and error."

He bought his candy making equipment — from large rotating drums and chocolate-melting vats to marble stone tables where chocolate and toffee bars are shaped — from auctions and manufacturers across the U.S.

In October, he opened the doors to his Arnold-based candy company: Blackforest Chocolates.

Granville said the candy business allows him to unleash his creative side.

"In the water district, you're creating things but always giving the neat projects to someone else to do because you're just managing. But here, I can actually implement something, create something myself," he said. "And I can have my family participate. It's more fulfilling and a more healthy, wholesome lifestyle."

Today, his store shelves hold jars of colorful, marble-shaped candy, from blue blueberry chocolates to green peppermint pearls to red Royal Anne cherry chocolates. He has chocolate-covered strawberry, cranberry and raisin candy as well as numerous kinds of chocolate-covered nuts and coffee beans.

"We manufacture it all right here, package and ship from here and sell over the counter," he said.

His 17-year-old son, Max, helps make the dragee candy, his daughter, 14-year-old Krista, helps with sales, his wife, Joan, packages the product and Granville does everything from attending trade shows, to developing new recipes to serving customers at the front counter.