By Jennifer Huberdeau
Who doesn’t love a little syrupy sweetness?
Another maple sugaring season is upon us, and there’s plenty of time to visit area sugarhouses — whether it’s for a fun-filled family outing or just to stock up for the year.
We’ve put together a list of 38 must-visit sugarhouses in the Berkshires and southern Vermont, who allow visitors during their boiling season.
We suggest you call ahead or visit their websites to confirm whether or not the sugarhouse is operating before your visit.
1. Ioka Valley Farm- Hancock
In 1992, Rob Leab and his wife, Melissa, the third generation to run Ioka Valley Farm, revived the art of maple sugaring with 13 taps and his mother’s kitchen stove. Today, the farm has more than 10,000 taps that feed sap from the sugarbush into the sugarhouse’s two modern wood-fired boilers.
During the boiling season, which traditionally runs from mid-February through early April, visitors are welcome to stop by the sugarhouse. Tours and tastings are traditionally held on weekends during the boiling season. The ‘Calf-A’ serves pancake meals with the farm’s own maple syrup during the sugaring season.
2. Mission Maple at Ramblewild- Lanesborough
The Forest Stewardship Council-certified forest lands surrounding Feronia Forests’ Ramblewild tree-to-tree adventure park are home to the 110-acre sugarbush from which sustainably sourced sap is tapped to make Mission: Maple syrup. A portion of the proceeds from the syrup are donated to a nonprofit.
Syrup, including a limited-release bourbon-infused syrup, are available in 2- and 3.5-ounce sizes.
3. Caproni Family Sugarbush- North Adams
The Caproni Family has produced maple syrup for over 50 years. Alfred Caproni, who began tapping trees in his early 20s, would share the tradition with his children. Son Greg Caproni has recently taken a more active role in the family business, stepping in to help expand the operation and keep it up to date with the most modern advances in the industry.
The sugarhouse, which has a high-efficiency, wood-burning arch for boiling, is fed each season by some 800 to 1,200 taps. Half of the taps are old-fashioned bucket collection stations, while the rest utilize vacuum tubing. In addition to producing maple syrup, the family also make maple candy, maple sugar and maple cream. Visitors are always welcome to stop by and view the family operation during the maple sugaring season.
4. Holiday Brook Farm- Dalton
Since establishing Holiday Brook Farm in the late 1800s, four generations of the Crane family have been producing maple syrup.
In the early days, the family tapped the sugar maples that line the road and a brook alongside the farm. Nowadays, sap is harvested from the farm’s sugarbush on Day Mountain in Dalton. It’s brought back to the farm’s two sugarhouses, where it’s boiled in wood-fired evaporators. Call ahead for boiling times.
5. Turner Farms Sugarhouse- South Egremont
When Paul and Carla Turner produced their first 25 gallons of maple syrup in 1988, they did so with a “backyard rig.” Over the next few years, the number of taps jumped from 500 to 2,000. New equipment was added and production increased.
Today, the farm has 4,300 taps that feed into the sugarhouse by reverse osmosis, where it is boiled down to syrup.
6. Crystal Brook Farm- Tyringham
At least eight generations of the Slater family have owned and operated Crystal Brook Farm, which began as a dairy farm. Today the farm produces maple syrup and hay for livestock and construction purposes.
7. Moose Mountain Maples- Otis
Alan and Anita Minery opened Moose Mountain Maples in 2010 with a sugarhouse on West Center Road.
Equipped with the latest technology for commercial production, reverse osmosis is used to bring sap to the sugar shack.
8. Sweet Brook Farm- Williamstown
Peter Phelps began raising alpacas on Sweet Brook Farm in 2007, adding the art of maple sugaring to their repertoire two years later. He began with a few taps the first year and fell in love with producing his own maple syrup.
The farm now has 4,350 taps in its sugar bush and produces a variety of maple products, including syrup, candies and roasted nuts.
9. Windsor Hill Sugar House- Windsor
A total of 4,000 taps bring sap to Windsor Hill’s sugarhouse, where Andy and Trisha Schmidt produce a variety of maple products, including syrup, maple cream, maple candy, maple-sugared nuts, maple jelly and maple sugar.
10. Blue Heron Farm- Charlemont
Bill and Norma Coli began the maple sugaring process when they built Blue Heron Farm’s sugarhouse in 1986. Since then the family has been boiling sap collected from the farm’s 4,000 taps over a wood-fired evaporator.
The farm produces 600 to 800 gallons of certified organic pure maple syrup a season.
11. Berkshire Sweet Gold Maple Farm- Heath
At Berkshire Sweet Gold Maple Farm, sustainability is key to the sugaring process. The “solar-powered harvesting” system includes 60-kilowatt solar panels paired with the reverse osmosis system that delivers sap from 20 miles of tubing to the sugarhouse’s evaporator.
The results are single-crop, single-batch syrups that are handcrafted with care and limited in number.
12. Fourniers Sugarhouse- Plainfield
Fournier’s Sugarhouse began in 1998 in a very different location — Northfield, Mass. Gary and Jean Fournier, with the help of their family, disassembled the old sugarhouse and moved it 45 miles to their farm in Plainfield, where they’ve been sugaring ever since.
The family jokes that the farm has more taps (about 1,500) than there are residents in the town (about 600). Another 300 old-fashioned buckets add to the sap collected and boiled in the sugarhouse. The farm produces several grades of maple syrup.
13. Thatcher’s Sugarhouse- Plainfield
Four generations of Thatchers have been sugaring in Plainfield since 1906. The family retired the original 1906 sugarhouse built by Charles Thatcher at the family dairy farm and replaced it with a new, more publicly accessible one in 2000.
Drawing sap from some 2,000 taps, the family produces a variety of products including maple syrup, maple cream, maple cashews, maple candy and granulated sugar.
14. Jennings Brook Farm- New Ashford
The Jennings family has been farming in New Ashford since arriving after World War II. Beginning in 1985, the family began tapping sugar maples on the 200-acre farm to produce maple syrup. Today, the family taps 3,000 trees producing maple syrup, as well as a variety of maple-based products including maple lollipops, maple nuts, maple cream, maple candy and maple sugar.
15. Country Maple Farm- Shelburne
Maple sugaring has always been a passion of Jim Bragdon, who’s been making maple syrup at Country Maple Farm in 2008. A variety of products, including maple syrup, maple cream, maple candy and maple cream on fried dough are produced during the season.
The farm operates 3,000 taps and buys sap from another 2,000 to 3,000 taps from another local producer. Collected by vacuum tubing and a reverse osmosis system, the sap is boiled in a wood-fired evaporator before it becomes a sweet amber-colored syrup. The sugarhouse is open by appointment only. During the sugaring season, open house hours are posted on Facebook.
16. Gould’s Maple Sugarhouse- Shelburne
Come for the syrup, but stay for the pancakes. Helen Gould and her family opened Gould’s Maple Sugarhouse in 1960. Three generations and 57 years later, the sugarhouse and restaurant are still operating in the same location.
Take a peek at how the family makes syrup with a wood-fired evaporator before heading to the restaurant for pancakes, fritters and syrup on snow.
17. The Robb Family Farm- Guilford
Established in 1907, The Robb Family Farm has been producing maple syrup for six generations. The sugaring process has been handed down and the family still boils down the sap in the traditional way — with a wood-fired arch.
The only thing “new” about the sugaring process is the sugarhouse. The family’s current sugarhouse was built in 1998, replacing the original 1920s building.
In addition to syrup, the farm produces maple candy, maple ice cream and maple-coated nuts.
18. Harlow’s Sugar House- Putney
Harlow’s Sugar House has been carrying out the New England tradition of maple sugaring since 1927.
Run by the fourth generation of Harlows to call the farm home, the sugarhouse produces a variety of maple products, including several varieties of syrup, maple candies and maple creams.
19. Ball Brook Maple- Pownal
With the help of family and friends, the Dence family boils the sap collected from eight miles of tubes along 30 acres of Ball Brook Farm.
The sap, which is deposited into a 1,100-gallon container near the Ball Brook Sugarhouse, is slowly boiled into thick, amber syrup.
The family also produces maple candies and maple creams.
20. The Sugar Shack- Arlington
Take a ride along Historic RT7A, also known as Sugar Shack Lane, and you’ll come across the XR Maple Farm at the Sugar Shack in Arlington.
The Sugar Shack offers samples of all four grades of its pure maple syrup in the store, so you can pick your favorite.
Free sugarhouse tours with samples of hot maple syrup are offered during the sugaring season.
21. Paradise Farm Sugarhouse- Brattleboro
Maple syrup has been part of this farm’s history in one way or another. Its current owners revived the practice when they built a “new” sugarhouse from a 200-year-old building they brought in from downtown Brattleboro.
The sugarhouse is attached to the farm’s country store, which offers up its maple products including syrup, candy and creams.
22. Matt’s Maple Syrup- Marlboro
Although Matt’s Maple Syrup has only been producing maple syrup since 1979, this small, family owned farm taps 1,800 trees each year.
The family boils sap the same way farmers have been doing it for the last century — over a wood-fired evaporator.
23. Maple Hill Maple- Shaftsbury
Maple sugaring began as a hobby for Rick Kobik when he arrived in Vermont in the early 1970s. His hobby grew from boiling a few gallons of maple syrup over an open flame to building his own sap house. He named it Maple Hill Maple.
Today, Kobik and his wife, Greer, continue to boil syrup with the help of family and friends.
24. Dutton’s Farm Stand- Manchester Center
While you can purchase maple syrup at any of the three Dutton Berry Farm locations, you can only experience the collection and boiling of sap at its Manchester Center location.
The Duttons, who have been maple sugaring for over 20 years, put out more than 3,000 taps in their sugarbush each year.
25. Lilac Ridge Farm- Brattleboro
Lilac Ridge Farm started in 1937 with Stuart J. Thurber and Marjorie Van der Vliet. Today, Ross and Amanda Ellis Thurber continue the family tradition at Lilac Ridge Farm.
Now certified organic with Vermont Organic Farms, the farm is a 2,000-tap sugaring operation.
26. Franklin Farm- Guilford
At the Franklin Farm, David, John and Mary Ellen Franklin take pride in the maple syrup they produce.
The family sets about 2,700 taps each year at the certified organic farm, which they’ve farmed for eight generations.
27. Sprague & Son Sugarhouse- Jacksonville
Sprague and Son Sugarhouse was built in 1993 by Marty and Karen Sprague along with their son, Rodney.
In addition to maple syrup, the sugarhouse also produces maple candies, maple spread, maple sugar and maple crunchies.
28. Evans Maple Farm- Dummerston
Faith and Roger Evans have been maple sugaring as a couple since 1975.
Their operation comprises approximately 3,000 taps – about half buckets and half pipeline. In a good maple sugaring year, they can produce approximately 1,000 gallons of premium quality Vermont maple syrup.
29. Mance Family Tree Farm- Shaftsbury
At the Mance Family Tree Farm, maple syrup is made with a traditional wood-fired evaporator and reverse osmosis.
During Maple Open House Weekend, on March 25 and 26, stop by the sugarhouse to learn how maple syrup is made and sample some of the farm’s maple syrup.
30. Merck Forest & Farmland Center- Rupert
A 40-acre sugar bush with over 3,000 taps supplies the sap for the Merck Forest and Farmland Center’s 100 percent organic certified syrup.
A long-standing tradition at the farm is its annual pancake breakfast, held during Maple Open House Weekend. Other activities include tapping demonstrations and wagon rides.
31. Hidden Springs Maple- Putney
Tapping the sap of a 250-acre sugarbush of 100-year-old sugar maples on Beamis Hill in Westminster West Westminster West is one of the secrets behind Hidden Springs Maple’s sweet amber syrups. That and the Copper-Ellis family’s 50-year tradition of sugar making.
Maple sugaring comes easy to Peter Cooper-Ellis, who along with his brother, Fraser, began learning the trade at a young age at the family’s Dusty Ridge sugarbush. The brothers co-own CE Maples, as well as their own retail companies, Fraser’s Vermont Maple and Hidden Springs Maple.
In 2010, Peter Cooper-Elis, with the help of his wife, Sarah Weck, took Hidden Springs online, tapping a new customer base. Today, the sugarmakers maple syrups, candies, and creams, as well as a variety of other maple products are available online as well as at the farm store in Putney, where visitors can learn about the sugaring process and buy a gallon or more to take home.
32. Mountain Valley Maple- West Rupert
The 2016 maple sugaring season was good to Mike Lourie, owner of Mountain Valley Maple Farm. In mid-February, he told The Maple News that he was already on his eighth boil of the season and already boiled 960 gallons of syrup. May 2017’s boil is set to be just as good!
33. The Wing Farm- Bennington
According to The Wing Farm’s Facebook page, “Making maple syrup is a family affair. There is no better place to do homework than in a sugarhouse.” We’ll take their word for it.
The farm has been owned and operated by Scott and Erin McEnaney since 2012.
34. Peacock’s Pure Vermont Maple Syrup- Shaftsbury
Visit the sugarhouse during Maple Weekend to tour the sap house, a ‘walk the woods’ learning process and collecting buckets for children.
35. Armstrong Farm- Bennington
Keith Armstrong began making maple sugar at a young age and later apprenticed under Colonel Ayres in Shaftsbury. He began his own sugaring business in 1975.
Armstrong now taps over 3,000 trees on his properties in Bennington and Pownal.
36. Touch of Peace Farm- Bennington
Visit this CSA during Maple Weekend for demonstrations and tastings.
37. Loomis Family Sugar House- Shaftsbury
Tour the Loomis family’s sugarhouse, watch syrup boil and sample some maple treats.
38. Glastenview Maple Farm- Shaftsbury
At Glastenview Maple Farm, owners Bill and Sue Freeman are proud to say they boil their syrup with a wood-fired evaporator.
A visit to the sugarhouse includes a tour of the sugar bush, candy making and a variety of maple syrup and snacks to try and purchase.