A Peek At Maple Syrup Making From Vermont’s Sugarbush Farm

A tradition of making some of Vermont’s best maple syrup has turned this working farm into a top travel destination of the Northeast.

by Lili DeBarbieri
PHOTO: iStock/Thinkstock

Sugarbush Farm, located outside world-famous arts mecca of Woodstock, Vt., is surrounded by several country inns and bed-and-breakfasts, as well as a number of restaurants serving up farm-to-table meals. The town works hard to promote the area as an ideal place for a weekend getaway or a longer vacation, which is a boon for the farm, which specializes in pure Vermont maple syrup.

More than $60 million worth of maple syrup is produced each year in Vermont, accounting for 41 percent of the entire country’s production. With more and more individual sugar makers getting into the syrup-making business, the state often finds a surplus in reserves. As a working and demonstration farm, Sugarbush stands out from the crowd to draw a huge following.

“When folks are visiting the area they want to see the real deal, so we, as a working farm, are able to attract about 40,000 visitors each year to sample our products, learn about maple-syrup making through our display and maple walk, and help out our family farm with purchases in the farm store,” says Sugarbush Farm owner Betsy Luce.

Sugarbush was named “Best Cheese and Maple Syrup Stop in Vermont” by Yankee Magazine, and Luce received “Travel Person of the Year” award by Vermont’s tourism department. The number of visitors to Sugarbush continues to grow each year, with many families coming back each season as a family tradition. Visitors return home and want to order more maple products.

What You Should Know About Maple Syrup

Vermont’s cool spring weather is one of the Sugarbush’s biggest assets. Maple-syrup production requires six weeks of nights at just below freezing, with daytime temperatures hitting in the 40- to 50-degree range, to make the sap flow. If the conditions on your farm are right to start a similar operation, Luce shares her sweet tips for burgeoning maple-sugar producers.

  • Maple syrup makes a perfect natural sweetener. Because it’s all-natural with no preservatives, refrigerate it after opening.
  • Maple syrup keeps three or four years either unopened in its original container, refrigerated or frozen.
  • Timing is everything. If you want to open up your farm to visitors during maple season, which varies by weather, be clear that they won’t be able to see maple syrup being made every day. You won’t be able to predict the best time for visitors, so be flexible. Let your customers know that their decision to visit must be made just a few days before they arrive on the farm.

When You Visit

Five miles from Sugarbush is the Billings Farm & Museum, a working dairy farm with a living history museum showing farm activity in 1890 with restored farm house. Also in Woodstock is Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical Park, which deals with sustainability of the environment and forest health. A mere 3 miles away is Quechee, a small unincorporated village that sits on the Ottauquechee River and is home to the Quechee Gorge and known for its picturesque covered bridged. It’s no wonder Woodstock has been named one of the five prettiest towns in the U.S.

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