“A rise of steam from a small building at the edge of the trees on a warm day near the end of winter may signal that somebody’s sugaring, spring is on its way, and liquid gold is being made.” — from Mary Hard Bort’s Manchester: Memories of a Mountain Valley
It’s that time of year again when the temperatures rise above 40 degrees Farenheit during the day and fall below freezing at night. It’s the naturally occurring event that only comes around once a year… sugaring season! Maple producers around Vermont and the Manchester area scurry to tap trees, collect maple sap, and boil it down to make what we call, “liquid gold” – Pure Vermont Maple Syrup!
Did you know?
• It takes roughly 40 gallons of sap to make one gallon of Vermont maple syrup.
• Maple sap is mostly crystal-clear water with only about 2% sugar content.
• Vermont produces roughly 50% of the United States’ maple syrup crop.
• A tree needs to be about 40 years old (10-12 inches in diameter) to be large enough to tap.
• Some large maple trees in Vermont sugarbushes are over 200 years old.
• Sugaring season only lasts for 4 to 6 weeks at most.
• Maple syrup is a great substitution for sugar in recipes, because it contains some nutrients. In two tablespoons, you get the mineral manganese and the B vitamin riboflavin, plus small amounts of calcium, potassium, and zinc. In addition, pure maple syrup contains antioxidants.
Great news for 2022! The annual Vermont Maple Open House Weekend is back. Even better, they are expanding it to two weekends instead of just one. Join us March 19th & 20th, as well as March 26th & March 27th in Manchester, VT – and experience all the fun and learn the craft! It’s been two very long years since this annual event was able to be held, and we couldn’t be more excited to see it return.
When visiting Manchester, VT, don’t forget to stop at one of our local sugar houses. It is recommended to call ahead, even during Maple House Weekend dates to ensure the sugar house is open and accepting visitors.
Bob’s Maple Shop
Bob Bushee and his crew collect sap from 7 different Maple stands scattered throughout Bennington County. Then they boil it down to sweet deliciousness at their Richville Road sugar house. You can call ahead to plan a visit.
Dutton Farm Stand
Paul and Wendy Dutton are famous across Southern Vermont for their home-grown produce. During sugaring season, they tap more than 3000 maple trees to make gallons and gallons of Vermont pure syrup. The Manchester farm stand is open seven days a week from 9 am ‘til 7 pm and if you see the steam rising from the sugar shack, you can stop in for a tour and a taste!
Merck Forest & Farmland Center
250 of Merck’s 3000+ managed acres are used to produce sap. You can visit the sugar house, tour the stands, and learn how trees are tapped. But if you want to experience one of the farm’s longest-standing traditions, head to Rupert on Saturday, March 19 from 10am – 2pm. Come and celebrate this time-honored Vermont tradition with us during our Maple Open House with tapping and boiling demonstrations, storytelling, children’s activities, farm animals, and more await. Food is available. $3 pp suggested donation.
Smokey House Center
Located north of Manchester in the town of Danby, Smokey House Center encompasses more than 5,000 acres of mostly conserved forest and farmland. Like Merck, they’re dedicated to maintaining a working landscape that promotes sustainable agricultural and forestry practices while engaging people in meaningful ways.
Like many of the sugar houses on our tour, Arlington’s Sugar Shack combines tradition with technology to produce all four grades of Vermont’s liquid gold. Take a tour, sample hot syrup, and check out the Norman Rockwell exhibit while you’re there. Our maple open house weekend is coming up March 19 & 20. Free silver dollar pancakes, maple syrup samples, tours and explanations in our Sugarhouse and LOTS of maple treats available in the shop.
Bob’s Maple Shop
Richville Road, Manchester
From the roundabout in Manchester, follow Routes 11/30 ½ mile to Richville Road. Turn right and follow Richville for 3 miles to Bob’s sign.
Dutton Farm Stand
Depot Street, Manchester
From the roundabout in Manchester, follow Routes 11/30 out of town approximately 2.5 miles and watch for Dutton’s sign on your left.
3270 Route 315, Rupert
From Manchester, follow Route 30, through Dorset, for 8.2 miles to Route 315. Turn left on Route 315 and follow approximately 2.6 miles to the top of the hill. The driveway to Merck Forest & Farmland Center will be on the left. Proceed 1/2 mile up the driveway to the parking area and Visitor Center.
Smokey House Center
426 Danby Mountain Road, Danby
From Manchester, follow Route 7 north 12 miles. At Danby, turn west on Mt. Tabor Ave. Then turn right on Main Street and then left onto Brook Road. Follow Brook Road for about 3 miles to Smokey House Road. Take a left on Smokey House Road. At the T, the driveway is in front of you to the left.
Sugar Shack Lane, Rt. 7A, Arlington
From Manchester, follow Route 7A south approximately 8 miles. Watch for the Sugar Shack sign and driveway on the right.
Shop, Tour, and Taste Manchester
And if you want to experience a little bit more of Vermont on your Maple Sugar Season adventure, sign up for Backroads Discovery Tours‘ “Sugar Season Tours.” Enjoy this three-hour tour, starting at 1 pm, as expert tour guide Sharon O’Connor takes you on an easy-breezy jaunt from Manchester through Dorset and then on to Arlington. You ride along, while Sharon shows off the country’s oldest marble quarry, Dorset’s quintessential village center, the “Birthplace of Vermont, and a gorgeous Vermont covered bridge (photo-op!) before winding up at Arlington’s Sugar Shack, where the sap is boiling and sweetness abounds. Advanced reservations are required.
In love with Vermont Maple products, but can’t make the trip or would rather experience it in another way? Many of our local shops, bakeries, and confectioners offer locally-produced maple products. Everything from the liquid gold itself to maple crème, candies, sugar, rubs, and even salad dressings. Stop in and purchase these delectables for yourself or as a gift for a loved one. Some can even be ordered online and shipped. Places like Above all Vermont, Dorset Bakery, and Mother Myrick’s are just a few places to buy in person or have it shipped to you or that someone special.
You will find the liquid gold almost everywhere in Manchester, VT. Whether your dining out for breakfast at many of our area restaurants, like the Copper Grouse or staying at one of our quaint Inns or B&B’s, like the Inn at Manchester, the pure Vermont Maple Syrup will be flowing over your morning pancakes or french toast.
Maple-inspired dishes abound and appear on many dinner menus. Ye Olde Tavern even creates their own homemade maple butter that you can enjoy with the delicious breads they serve or you can buy it and enjoy at home. Even the local cocktail scene can’t be without the sweet delight! Stop by Raven’s Den Steakhouse and Taproom, belly up to the bar, and order a Maple Martini. This local concoction is made with lots of local love and local ingredients, like Green Mt. Vodka (VT), Metcalfe’s Maple Liqueur (VT), Fresh Lime, Maple Syrup (VT) and a Sugar Rim. You can also swing by the Marsh Tavern at the Equinox Golf Resort and Spa, sit by their outdoor firepit, and sip on a Vermont Old Fashioned – made with Smuggler’s Notch Bourbon (VT), Orange and Angostura Bitters and Maple Syrup (VT)! If you love the VT Old Fashioned (and we know you will!), stop by the Smugglers Notch Distillery Tasting Room, right here in downtown Manchester, VT and pick yourself up a bottle bourbon or taste many of the other distilled beverages they have to offer, including their Bourbon Barrel-Aged Maple Syrup.