2016 Maple Tours

There are five different maple tours being offered on October 29th. All tours will depart after breakfast from the Hilton Hotel. You will travel on a Premier Coach with a tour guide. Beverages and lunch will be provided, and you will return to the Hilton Hotel by 5 PM.

Tour A

Tour A will travel throughout northern Chittenden county and Lamoille county. This area is the home of Mount Mansfield, the tallest of Vermont’s Green Mountains. This tour includes stops at a winery and distillery so it may be a spirited ride back to the hotel.  Stops include:
Proctor Maple Research Center,
Boyden Valley Winery & Spirits,
Marsh Sugarhouse,
Butternut Mountain Farm,
Green Mountain Distillery.

Tour B

Tour B will introduce visitors to Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom. This will be the longest bus ride, but well worth it. You will get to see the largest sugaring operation in North America and the largest packer of maple syrup in the United States. Stops include:
Goodrich’s Maple Farm,
Maple Grove Farms of Vermont,
Sweet Tree Maple.

Tour C

Tour C will travel north through Chittenden and adjacent Franklin County. This area is heavily populated with maple trees. Wind energy and robotic milking interact with sugaring as part of this tour. This tour is a good choice if you want to get into the sugarbush, in addition to visiting the production facilities. Stops include:

Proctor Maple Research Center,
Branon Family Maple Orchards,
Georgia Mountain Maples,
Green Mountain Mainlines,
Sweet Family Dairy Farm.

Tour D

Tour D also explores Chittenden and Franklin Counties. High technology and innovative solutions will be featured, along with another opportunity to view robotic milking in action. This tour also touches the base of Mount Mansfield and includes an opportunity to get into the sugarbush. Stops include:

Proctor Maple Research Center,
Branon Family Maple Orchards,
Davis Family Maple,
Marsh Sugarhouse,
Sweet Family Dairy Farm.

Tour E

Tour E travels south to Addison County through farmland and deep into the hills. You will visit locations using traditional boiling with innovation and large, high technology facilities. Long known as the “Land of Milk and Honey”, Addison County aptly might be termed “The Land of Milk and Maple.” Stops include:

Redrock Valley Maple Farm,
Shaker Maple Farm,
Norris Sugarworks,
Solar Sweet Maple Farm,
Bear Cobble Sugarworks.

Bear Cobble SugarworksDSC_3784BearCobble

Located in the mountainous area of Bristol/Starksboro, Bear Cobble Sugarworks is operated by owner Sprague Huntington and manager Brendan Moore. With about 29,500 taps on 500 acres of their extensive maple forest of 1,800 acres, Bear Cobble is proud to be one of the first sugarwoods in Vermont to be certified as Bird Friendly by the Audubon Society. They are also enrolled in the Vermont Maple Sugarmakers Association Certification program. Additions to the equipment in the past two years include two Leader Extreme HC8 Reverse Osmosis units, 8 membranes each, for a total of 16 membranes. A chain sawn wooden bear welcomes visitors to the sugarhouse! You can visit Bear Cobble  Sugarworks as part of Tour E.

Boyden Valley Winery & SpiritsDSC_4039Boydendoorpeople

Boyden Valley Winery and Spirits produces award-winning wines and cream liqueurs. Located in a restored 1875 carriage barn on the family farm, the Boyden Valley Winery is steeped in the culture and agricultural heritage of Vermont’s Green Mountains. From 8000 grapevines and 100 acres of maple trees, lovingly tended for four generations, the winery crafts wines that feature only the finest locally grown fruit from the loamy soils of the Lamoille River Valley. All of the wines are fermented in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks to produce elegant, lively whites, and medium bodied reds full with character. Aged in time–honored French Oak casks our cellars yield mature, European–style wines. Boyden Valley Spirits is proud to be the first craft distilled company in the U.S. to specialize in cream liqueurs.  Started in 2010, the craft distilled cream liqueurs are made in Vermont using Vermont grown apples and Boyden Valley maple syrup. You can visit Boyden Valley Winery & Spirits as part of Tour A.

Branon Family Maple OrchardsDSC_1850 Branon exterior

Tom and Cecile Branon and their sons are sixth generation sugarmakers and have been certified organic since 2003. They boil sap from their 68,000 taps located on their land in Fairfield and Bakersfield. Approximately 24,000 of those taps come directly into the sugarhouse. The first sugarhouse on this property was built in 1983 and then was expanded several times. In late summer of 2013 a decision was made to tear down the old sugarhouse. The new sugarhouse was completed in time to be enjoyed and used for the 2014 season. They boil on a 6×16 oil fired Lapierre Turbo 3 evaporator with an advanced piggy back, and a CDL “Master” Evaporator with a Steam pan. For ROs they have 3 Lapierre 8 post in Fairfield and 2 Lapierre 4 post in Bakersfield. In the summer of 2013 “Tapping the Sun” was realized when 18 solar trackers were installed to generate enough power to run the sugarhouse, work shop, house and pump houses located in Fairfield. They have a web site and sell their maple syrup and value added products across the US and internationally. You can visit Branon Family Maple Orchards as part of Tour C or D.

Butternut Mountain FarmDSC_4013Buternutwithfactory

Local farmers have been selling their maple syrup to the Marvin family of Butternut Mountain Farm for forty years. Butternut Mountain Farm and their team of ninety plus employees in Morrisville is one of the largest maple processors and distributors in the United States. The 75,000 square foot state of the art production facility produces and packages maple sugar, maple candy, and maple syrup and is certified organic, Kosher, and SQF. The Marvin family also own and operate their own sugaring operation, Butternut Mountain Farm Home Farm. Located on a hillside 1,000 ft. above the village of Johnson at the end of three miles of rough dirt road is the 600 acre tree farm that the Marvin Family has stewarded for more than half a century. “This place is the soul and spirit of our business,” says owner and founder of Butternut Mountain Farm, David Marvin. “Even today as the largest volume packager of Vermont Maple Syrup, I can’t imagine having built our business from any other place…” You can visit Butternut Mountain Farm as part of Tour A.

Davis Family MapleDSC_4336Davis

Davis Family Maple was started in 1987 by Lee and his parents, Ed and Shirley on 50 acres of leased land in Underhill. All of the sap was trucked to their Jericho sugarhouse. The Davis family can trace sugaring in their family back six generations. Lee continues the sugaring tradition with his wife Megan, and children Brandon, Cody and Daisy. Lee’s new sugarhouse now sits on those original acres, plus an additional 50 acres and another 100 acres of leased land with a total of 11,000 taps. The modern sugarhouse has a custom built woodchip evaporator with automated controls and chip delivery system designed and built by Lee. The woodchips are processed on the property. In 2015, 78 solar panels were installed on the sugarhouse roof to offset the sugaring electric bill. For 2016, Davis Family Maple has added wireless Smartrek radios for vacuum monitoring to aid in increased sap production. You can visit Davis Family Maple as part of Tour D.

Georgia Mountain MaplesDSC_3767Georgia Mountain

Georgia Mountain Maples in Milton began tapping maple trees in 2011 and had their first boil in 2012. Today they produce certified Organic and Kosher maple and birch syrup from 90,000 maple taps and 2500 birch taps. The sap is stored in thirteen 9500 gallon concrete holding tanks and processed using four reverse osmosis machines, two 7 million BTU single-burner natural gas evaporators, and two giant filter presses. You can’t tell the story of Georgia Mountain Maples without talking about the wind. In 2005 they began the process of getting approval and permitting for the Georgia Mountain Community Wind Project. The power generated by the four windmills that line the ridge line comes directly into the substation, and powers up to 6,000 homes in Milton. In another sustainable effort, Georgia Mountain Maples is utilizing the excess water drawn out of the sap during the reverse osmosis process and using it in Tretap, a sparkling water beverage. You can visit Georgia Mountain Maples as part of Tour C.

Goodrich’s Maple FarmDSC_4056Goodrich Ext 1

Glenn and Ruth Goodrich own and operate the sugarhouse and maple equipment supply in Cabot. The Goodrich and Abbott families of East Cabot settled this valley in the early 1830’s. Located in the lovely farming community along the headwaters of the Winooski River, the Goodrich’s currently tap 33,000 maple trees in the area. They specialize in high quality maple syrup and maple products. You can visit Goodrich’s Maple Farm as part of Tour B.

Green Mountain DistilleryDSC_4002Gr Mt distilleryTim

Green Mountain Distillers is a craft-distiller located in a new state of the art facility in Morrisville. Since 2002, Timothy Danahy and Harold Faircloth III, the Founders and Master Distillers, have dedicated themselves to producing hand-crafted, organic distilled spirits. All of the Green Mountain Organic products are meticulously crafted, using small-batch fermentation and a proprietary distillation process. Every Green Mountain Organic product begins with highest quality, 100% Certified Organic grain, provided by a family farmer owned cooperative. After harvesting, the grain is packed and shipped in triple walled, recycled bags. Once at the distillery, the grain is combined with Vermont spring water, drawn from a source located close to Mount Mansfield. This is then distilled six times to produce the highest quality spirits possible. One of Green Mountain Distillers signature products is their organic maple liqueur which is made from organic maple syrup produced by local sugar makers. You can visit Green Mountain Distillery as part of Tour A.

Green Mountain MainlinesDSC_0588JR Sloan sugarhousesteam2

JR Sloan started sugaring in 1988 selling sap from 2,000 taps and today boils sap at his Fletcher operation from 180,000 taps. A good share of this sap is purchased from other sugaring operations and trucked via 8 trucks, including two 18 wheelers. If all of the trucks pull into the yard at the same time, they are carrying 32,500 gallons of sap. Processing all that sap takes quite an array of machines: there are 5 reverse osmosis machine with a total of 43 membranes, three evaporators: two 4 X 14 CDL Deluxe models and a 4 X 16 Lapierre Turbo 2, all with Steam pans and Bubblers and a 20 inch DG filter press. While processing syrup is the main function, maintaining the health of the sugarwoods is always a top priority. JR’s goal is not to be the largest producer, but to be the most environmentally friendly that he can be. You can visit Green Mountain Mainlines as part of Tour C.

Maple Grove Farms of VermontDSC_4073Maple Grove ext

It’s been 100 years since Katherine Ide Gray and her daughter Helen began experimenting with maple confections at their Northeast Kingdom home. The hobby soon turned into a successful enterprise which, in turn, grew into what is now the largest packer of pure maple syrup in the United States, one of the largest manufactures of maple candies in the world and a national producer of gourmet specialty salad dressings. Located in St. Johnsbury, Maple Grove Farms has 75 employees who produce 2.5 million cases of product per year at their Portland Street location. The company was purchased by national food product manufacturer B&G Foods, Inc. in 1998, and since has continued to grow. You can visit Maple Grove Farms as part of Tour B.

Marsh SugarhouseDSC_4017Marsh sugarhouse ext

The Marsh family has been producing maple syrup on this Jeffersonville farm since they purchased it in 1909. Rick and Diane along with their son Ryan, who is the sixth generation, operate this sugarbush. The operation has grown from 900 buckets to just under 11,000 taps which are all on a “state-of-the-art” high vacuum tubing system with a CDL monitoring system. Sap is processed on 20+ CDL Reverse Osmosis unit and a CDL 5’x 15’ oil-fired evaporator. Daughter, Michelle and her husband, Dan own and operate the nearby Vermont Maple Outlet, a retail store/mail order business which was started by Rick and Diane in 1989 to sell their pure maple products along with Vermont specialty foods. You can visit the Marsh Sugarhouse as part of Tour A.

Norris SugarworksNorris2

Norris Sugarworks is a 400 acre maple farm located in South Starksboro. Owners Kelly and Kathleen Norris tap two parcels of land. Kelly’s parents, Mahlon and Betty, grew up on those parcels where their parents made maple syrup. Mahlon used to sneak though the sugarwoods to see Betty early on in their relationship. A lot has changed since Kelly’s grandparents used buckets and horses to gather sap from 2000 trees. Kelly and Kathleen use pipeline on a vacuum system and tap 19,000 trees. While the Norris’s have adopted the use of new technology, like reverse osmosis, they have stuck to tradition and still use wood to fire the arch. On a field adjacent to the sugarbush, the Norris’s have a two acre hop yard. Although growing hops was common in the Northeast throughout the 1800’s, most hop production today occurs in the Pacific Northwest. With the craft beer industry in Vermont on the rise, Kathleen and Kelly feel that growing hops is a great compliment to their maple syrup business. They began constructing the hop yard in late 2014 and are excited to harvest their first crop this fall. You can visit the Norris Sugarworks as part of Tour E.

Proctor Maple Research CenterDSC_4079Proctor ext.

The Proctor Maple Research Center is a Field Research Station in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at the University of Vermont. The Proctor Maple Research Center was established in 1946 with the donation of the former Harvey Farm in Underhill Center to the University of Vermont by Governor Mortimer Proctor. Research has centered on the sugar maple tree (Acer saccharum Marsh.) and its products–sap and syrup. You can visit the Proctor Maple Research Center as part of Tour A, C or D.

Redrock Valley Maple FarmDSC_3773Emmons2

Redrock Valley Maple Farm started as a business between Henry Emmons (the current owner) and Ruford Brace. For the first few years, it was a small operation with a few hundred sap buckets, boiling in a flat-bottom pan as a hobby. As the operation grew, they built a sugarhouse for the 1983 season and purchased a new 6 x 14 Leader evaporator. Today, Redrock Valley operates with 9,000 taps, and the sap travels to the sugarhouse by plastic tubing on vacuum. The mountain maples are accessed by mainline crossing over a well-traveled road. The sugarhouse has two 6,000 gallon holding tanks for sap. As the sap moves from the tanks to the evaporator, it is processed through two Lapierre ROs. The company has remained family-run and they market, process, and package the syrup themselves – selling the syrup locally, and providing for restaurants in the area. With the help of family, they are able to have open house every weekend of the sugar season. You can visit the Redrock Valley Maple Farm as part of Tour E.

Shaker Maple FarmDSC_3782Willseynoshed

Steve and Leah Willsey started sugaring in Starksboro in 1987. They purchased Shaker Maple Farm in 1990 and built a sugarhouse for the 1991 season. They built a new sugarhouse for the 2014 season and currently have two CDL ROs and boil on a 5 X 15 CDL oil fired evaporator with a steam pan. This year they boiled from about 17,000 taps, 12,000 of which they own. They buy sap from two neighbors. Half of the crop is sold retail, and the other as bulk. Shaker Maple Farm has now ventured into making birch syrup. This year they had about 700 birch taps. You can visit Shaker Maple Farm as part of Tour E.

Solar Sweet Maple FarmDSC_3774Solar

Solar Sweet Maple Farm, owned and operated by Tom and Rhonda Gadhue, is nestled in the mountains of South Lincoln. The farm is situated on 200 acres of managed forested land, and they tap 15,000 beautiful maple trees. The operation is a dream come true for Tom, who was bitten by the sugaring bug as a child. With a distinct vision in mind, Tom searched for many years to find the perfect place to build his dream sugarhouse. He knew he wanted to create something unique – truly a beautiful “site to see”. With solar power and energy efficiency as his main goal, along with creating a “state of the art” facility, his dream was brought to life. In early winter 2010 they bought the sugarbush, and immediately began preparing the site for building. They ventured up to the site on a loader, and worked in waist deep snow every weekend for several months clearing the site to ensure prompt construction of the sugarhouse in the spring of 2011. The Solar Sweet sugarhouse was built from reclaimed Vermont barns. Solar panels provide enough energy to power the entire sugarhouse. You can visit Solar Sweet Maple Farm as part of Tour E.

Sweet Family Dairy FarmDSC_4195Sweet barn

Sweet Family Farm in Fletcher is a sixth generation dairy farm that has diversified over the years to include maple sugaring and an excavating business. Kelly and Joan Sweet’s farm started with 7 Jersey cows and has now grown into a 225 milking herd of both Jerseys and Holstein mix. They raise all of their own young stock and buy no replacement cows in hopes of keeping the herd healthier. Three years ago they built a modern dairy facility and incorporated 4 Lely Astronaut A4 milking robot system along with a Lely Calm calf feeding system, a Juno feed pusher and other unique features to make the herd comfortable. The barn has a “flush system” that cleans the barn’s alleyways by using recycled waste water. All of this modern technology provides Sweet Family Farm with tools to be more efficient farmers, provide cow comfort and bring flexibility to enjoy their work. You can visit the Sweet Family Farm as part of Tour C or D.

Sweet Tree MapleDSC_4068

The nation’s biggest maple operation tapped 200,000 maples for the 2016 season and plans to expand to 750,000 taps. Sap is collected and concentrated at two remote locations and then trucked to the evaporator facility in Island Pond. The 90,000 square foot facility in Island Pond was the home of The Ethan Allen Furniture Company where fine furniture was made. The building was left unoccupied for a number of years and was in poor condition. After adding a new roof and a number of other major improvements, the building has been brought back to life and now houses the Sweet Tree sugarhouse, storage area, and will be used for the production of value added products. The building has excellent road access as well as access to the railroad. In the rear of the building the trucks can enter the building and deliver the concentrate. There are large pumps which move the concentrate from the trucks to the tanks before boiling. There are four steam powered evaporators, model R7, on the main production floor and there is also a mechanical room which houses the steam boilers, hydronic boilers, and compressed air systems. You can visit Sweet Tree Maple as part of Tour B.