When Leesburg resident David Mercado decided to open Art Sweet Art in historic Leesburg on Loudoun Street in 2018, he did so with the goal of promoting local artisans and providing them with a space to show and sell their work.
To go along with the artwork, Mercado signed on as a dealer of high-end Belgium chocolatier Neuhaus.
This year, with the closure of his neighbor, Leesburg Vintner, Mercado has decided to rebrand the store to a new name and theme: Exquisite Chocolate and Wine. He expects the transition to be completed by mid-November – just in time for the holidays.
The shop will sell wine and beer, cheese and Neuhaus chocolates and truffles, with an emphasis on the pairing experience, he said.
“It will be a gourmet shop. We will be adding French pastries and higher-end beer,” he said.
Mercado has purchased the 18-foot black walnut bar from Leesburg Vintner and will bring it into the shop as a place to host wine and beer tasting events. He plans to invite wine experts to present various wines from around the world and discuss the best pairing options.
“I lived in Spain for three years, and wine is much more a part of the culture there. People grow up seeing it can be a healthy and normal part of the culture. I have gradually begun to understand the differences between wines and have learned how to distinguish between the flavors to pair with specific truffle flavors,” he said.
Neuhaus has recently launched a chocolate collection designed to pair with fine wines, which Mercado currently has in stock. The 24 pieces can be bought as a set for $36, or you can purchase each piece individually.
The art exhibits will continue, with a new photography exhibit starting Nov. 1 featuring three local photographers, including images taken by Mercado, who also owns Soundview Services, an audio and visual event production company.
While he is new to the wine business, Mercado has been talking with Mike Carroll, who owned Leesburg Vintner. Carroll has offered some tips and advice.
“He has been a great resource to me and this community, and I appreciate that. I highly respect him, and he will be missed,” Mercado said.