THE Yarra Valley's newest tourist attraction has opened with a bang.
After opening its doors on December 15, the Yarra Valley Chocolaterie and Ice Creamery has been forced to increase staff numbers by 50 per cent to meet demand.
The company's strong start has been a coup for local tourism.
Owner Leanne Neeland, who opened the business with her husband Ian, said the chocolaterie had more than 8000 visitors over the Australia Day long weekend.
"The response has been amazing," she said. "We've had to increase our staff from 40 to 62 to deal with the numbers. We knew people would eventually come but not in the first few weeks. We haven't advertised, and the popularity has come largely from word of mouth or social media."
Hot weather has naturally increased the popularity of ice-cream.
Mrs Neeland said supporting local growers was one thing she set out to do from the start.
"We deliberately use local fruits and creams from the valley. We enjoy buying from them."
She said having international chocolatiers on board had brought fresh ideas to the team.
"We have four chocolatiers from Belgium and two from France. They've never dealt with things like rocky road or honeycomb before so they've had to become accustomed to that quickly."
Mrs Neeland said the best thing about opening the business was seeing families enjoying time together in the sunny weather.
"I love watching the kids run around and enjoying all the different chocolate we have."
If you're stuck on an idea for your Valentine on Thursday, the Yarra Valley creamery has handcrafted a range of limited-edition chocolates for your sweetheart.
For more information, visit yvci.com.au.