Sugarmaker Profiles


Hoburn family making a big go of it in Northern Vermont

Peter Gregg | October 19, 2022

ENOSBURG, Vt.—Service and family are the running themes at Rick’s Sugarhouse in Enosburg, Vt.

“You get that bug and it keeps growing and growing,” said Rick Hoburn who runs the operation with son, Richard, daughter, Autumn and cousin Donny Teague.

Hoburn started sugaring with just 25 buckets and a 4x4 pan but now the operation is one of the biggest in Vermont, aiming to have 50,000 taps in for this coming season and a potential to grow it to 80,000.

Hoburn, a cancer survivor who also battles the effects of Lyme disease, bought the 700 acres of sugarbush three years ago and broke ground on the massive sugarhouse in April 2020 during the peak of Covid. In just six months, the sugarhouse was up and ready for boiling. The woods were mostly tapped too, with help from neighbors like sugarmaker J.R. Sloan and Tom Patterson of CDL.

Sloan was the one who tipped off Hoburn that the property was available.

“The trees are big and it’s just a beautiful lot,” Hoburn said. “It was pretty much untouched.” MORE ]


Rising from the ashes

Peter Gregg | February 25, 2022

POWNAL, Vt.—Not many sugarmakers would be smiling after a sugarhouse fire.

Keith Armstrong can’t help it. He considers himself a lucky guy.

“Luck beats skill every time,” he said.

Armstrong, owner of the 4,000-tap Armstrong Farms maple operation in Pownal, Vt. lost almost everything in a fluke fire on July 9, his birthday.

Armstrong was first startled awake by a lightning strike at 1 in the morning, but shrugged it off and went back to sleep.

Two hours later firemen were pounding on his door. MORE ]


Pa. Couple rebounds after fire destroys sugarhouse

Sandra Lepley | Feb. 14, 2020

MEYERSDALE, Pa.—Black Bear Maple Camp is back in business this maple season just a year after a devastating fire destroyed everything.

"We've made seven barrels already," said owner Roger Newman on Feb. 13.

On Feb. 22, 2019 a fire at the sugarhouse destroyed the entire operation.

"We were devastated at the time of the fire not only because we lost all the assets but also because we lost the building we built from scratch," said owner Cindy Newman.

"But in the months that followed, we are able to rebuild with the help of friends in the great maple community and as difficult of a process as it was to go through this experience, we had the opportunity to change some things by building a new camp." MORE ]


Maple syrup making runs full circle for Michigan man

Stan Maddux | January 23, 2020

NILES, Mich.—Tom Cook was just 7 when hooked by the shiny evaporator pans boiling down sap into maple syrup.

He’s gone from tapping trees in his neighborhood and along roadsides as a kid to making syrup from his own 20 acre woods he planted himself.

Now 55, the southwest Michigan man said it’s a special feeling to venture out with his dog to harvest sap from trees he watched grow from seedlings the past 30-years.

“It’s always neat. You’re just thinking. God, I planted these things and you’re making syrup from them so it’s kind of cool,” he said. MORE ]


Hockey All-Star for ADK Thunder makes a go of sugaring in New Hampshire

Paul Post | January 23, 2020

Robbie Payne has enjoyed sweet success as an All-Star for the Adirondack Thunder, based in Glens Falls, N.Y.

From now till early April, he’ll be battling hard to help the team earn a berth in the ECHL’s Kelly Cup playoffs.

But on off days, Payne can’t wait to drive home, across Vermont, to Orford, N.H., where he’s pursuing his newfound love as an aspiring sugarmaker.

“I don’t know how far I’ll be able to get this year,” he said. “If I make a batch and it turns out well it’s going to be a good year, even if it’s just a pint. Some of the guys are asking me about it. They think it’s pretty interesting.”

Payne and his wife, Caitlin, moved to New Hampshire and bought 6.5 acres so they could be close to Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, in Hanover, where she’s in residency as a neurosurgeon.

“It’s a little over two hours from Glens Falls,” he said. “A lot of times we play Friday and Saturday, and have off Sunday. My plan is to go home and hopefully be able to take care of each tap and bucket and have them fill during the week. I don’t know exactly how it’s going to work. My wife might have to help me out a little bit. She think’s I’m crazy. But that’s all right. I want to try it out and see how it goes.” MORE ]


Pumpkin themed syrup a good business for Michigan family

Stan Maddux | December 4, 2019

CHARLEVOIX, Mich.—Maple syrup with a taste of pumpkin is among the selections offered by a growing family-owned syrup making company to get customers in the mood for autumn.

Harwood Gold in Charlevoix, Michigan has a wide selection of year round and seasonal flavors, including Pumpkin Spice.

Amber Munday and her sister, Katie Untalan, have greatly expanded the maple syrup menu since taking over the brand from their parents, Dave and Terri Parsons, in 2014.

Munday said she inserts pumpkin spices into each bottle then pours hot maple syrup into the bottles to draw out the flavors.

She said their Cinnamon Quill, Three Bean and Bourbon Barrel Aged infused maple syrups are also seasonal but more consistent than Pumpkin Spice in sales throughout the year.

‘’In my opinion, all of maple syrup is a very autumn product,” Munday said. “This is the time of year where our product sales start to increase because it’s a very warm and cozy product to want to have on your breakfast table.” MORE ]


Outdoor boiler is the envy of the neighborhood

Peter Gregg | June 5, 2019

Jonathan Finney of Jackson, N.Y. loves the outdoors in general, but especially for boiling.

Finney is one of a handful of sugarmakers who like to boil exposed to the elements, with no sugarhouse or roof cover.

The Maple News visited Finney and his homemade outdoor set-up on March 25, during a five-day run that kept him boiling every day from dawn to dusk.

“I love being out in the elements,” he said. “Either the sun is shining on you or it’s snowing on you. There’s just something about it.” MORE ]


Sugarmaker profile: Al & Amy Stein in Corfu, N.Y.

Alicia Keller | December 5, 2018

ORFU, N.Y.—Al and Amy Stein with the support of their family operate Sweet Dream Maple Farm on Reynolds Road in Corfu, N.Y. The couple moved to the area in 1989. Amy was the daughter of a doctor and grew up in Clarence, New York. Al’s father was a golf pro and purchased a golf course where Amy worked. The rest is history!

“I grew up in the Adirondack Mountains and my family made maple syrup, everyone made maple syrup if you had the trees,” Al Stein said.

Sweet Dream Maple Farm is the only maple operation commercially producing in Corfu.

“I never dreamed that I would be on a farm. My Dad was a doctor and I got everything I wanted as a child. Then I married this guy who has made me work my butt off but I would not have it any other way,” Amy Stein said. MORE ]


Matt Emerick, Pa. Maple King ending seventh reign

Sandra Lepley | August 20, 2018

HYNDMAN, Penn.—After seven years, the reign comes to an end.
Matt Emerick, 35, of Hyndman, Pa., in Somerset County wrapped up his seventh term as Pa. Maple King in March.
His father, Ed Emerick, held the title four times so their camp, Emerick's Pure Maple Products at 180 Ridge Rd. in Southampton Township, has won a total of 11 times. But, the accolades don't stop there.
Champion syrup through the festival contest came in 1989, 1993, 2000, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2016 and 2018.
In Somerset County, Pa., the largest maple syrup producing county in Pennsylvania, a contest for Pa. Maple King has been held during the Pa. Maple Festival in Meyersdale for decades. MORE ]


Crazy about maple: From engineer to full-time sap boiler

Paul Post | Feb. 1, 2018

Kirk Bassarab readily admits he’s crazy about maple.

Why else would he give up a well-paying, secure job with benefits to go full-time into sugaring?

Bassarab and his wife, Kristy, own Black Rooster Maple in Keene, N.Y., on busy state Route 73, the main travel corridor for people headed to Lake Placid, the “Olympic Village,” which attracts countless visitors throughout the year.

They are just now putting finishing touches on a brand-new sugarhouse in preparation for the 2018 season. MORE ]


At Riverside Maple Farms, it's all hands on deck

Paul Post | Jan. 20, 2018

At Riverside Maple Farms, there’s no such thing as a spectator.

Man or woman, it’s all hands on deck, from setting taps and stringing tubes to greeting customers at the firm’s gleaming new 5,300-square-foot operation on Route 5, a busy four-lane state highway in Glenville, N.Y., about midway between Schenectady and Amsterdam in the lower Mohawk Valley.

“No one’s safe from any job here,” Erica Welch, said smiling. “We’re all utility infielders. No one does just one thing. Everybody does everything, especially from January to April.” MORE ]


Vermont sugarmaker is industry's spout curator

Peter Gregg | Jan. 18, 2018

It all started when he was a kid, as these kind of things often do. Hale Mattoon, a sugarmaker in the hills of Chelsea, Vt. has since become the pre-eminent spout and maple artifact curator in the industry.

“For me, it’s a thrill,” Mattoon says of his lifelong passion, collecting maple spouts and other artifacts like evaporator fronts, buckets, tapping bits and sap regulators.

But his primary passion is spouts. MORE ]


At Papa John's, life’s passion about to get bigger

Paul Post | Dec. 28, 2017

Mark Turco goes to work to make a living. Making maple is his passion.

As a young kid, the Mount Holly, Vermont resident would pedal his bike down the road, and watch with fascination as steam billowed from a neighbor’s sugarhouse and the sweet aroma of boiling sap filled the air. In eighth grade, Turco fashioned his own evaporator out of a 55-gallon drum, which he made in a shop metals class. Right out of high school, he purchased his first real evaporator -- a 4-foot by 14-foot model -- for $3,400 that he earned doing odd jobs and selling syrup.

Turco, 52, is amazed how far he’s come since then. MORE ]


Making syrup supports camp ministry

Deborah Jeanne Sergeant | Dec. 11, 2017

Making maple syrup isn’t just a fundraiser for Randy Klawitter, executive director of Wilderness Fellowship Ministries. It’s also a metaphor for life. The Frederic, Wis.-based camp welcomes guests for faith retreats and Klawitter sees plenty of spiritual lessons from syrup making.

“A sugar maker has to know when to take the sap off the fire or it’ll burn,” he said. “If we learn to endure difficult times in life, there’s a sweetness that comes from that.” MORE ]


Vermont sugarmaker creates season for sorghum

Peter Gregg | Nov. 12, 2017

It’s late October and John Williamson of Shaftsbury, Vt. will soon be boiling in the sugarhouse. But not maple—sorghum.

“It wouldn’t feel like fall if we weren’t making sorghum,” he said.

A longtime sugarmaker of the maple syrup variety, Williamson has been making sorghum every autumn for the past 21 years. MORE ]


Flavor infuser: Vermont sugarmaker smoking maple

Paul Post | Aug. 25, 2017

Bob Hausslein took a good idea, started running with it and hasn’t stopped yet. About 15 years ago, while roasting a pig, he stumbled across the idea of making smoked maple syrup, which as fate would have it, turned his entire life and business around.

“Chefs down in the big city were exploring new flavor combinations as part of the then current ‘molecular gastronomy.’ One of them asked me to run with this riff of smoke and sugar we had found, and the category was born,” Hausslein said. “We are originators of Smoked Maple Syrup, and have been producing and selling it since 2005 at least. We don’t have a patent on the process, which is basically to expose the syrup to real wood smoke in some form. I sure have turned a lot of folks on to the idea, though.” MORE ]


Keeping to their own beat

Peter Gregg | June 2017

It’s been a long-time coming for Mike Benton and Benton’s Sugar Shack.

After five generations of sugaring in the Lakes Region town of Thornton, N.H. the Benton family took their first Carlisle Cup last year, awarded for the best maple syrup in the state, at the New Hampshire Maple Producers Association annual meeting. MORE ]


Masters of maple and mechanics

Peter Gregg | February 2017

Sleep can be a precious commodity for Greg Pittman.

“Sometimes I’ll wake up at two in the morning with the solution to something I need to fix,” Pittman said. He keeps a pad and pen next to the bed.

He’s a tinkerer and has a gift for understanding out how things work just by looking at them. He’s a machine whisperer, so to speak. Same goes for his son and son-in-law, both tinkerers too. Wife Debbie keeps the whole operation humming and organized. MORE ]


The ‘more’ in Wendel’s Maple & More

Kate Ziehm | January 2017

Have you ever been to a 3-ring circus?

In each ring, something different is going on, and you are not quite sure where to look for fear of missing something special.

The day that I visited Wendel’s Maple & More in East Concord, NY, that is sort of how I felt; like a child at a 3-ring circus. In each corner of the farm there was another facet of the Wendel’s business. My entrepreneurial heart was brimming with questions that I couldn’t wait to ask. MORE ]


Hering family has put away its buckets

Peter Gregg | January 2017

Just a few years ago, the Hering family of Waterville, Minn. was notable in the industry for being one of the biggest operations in the U.S. still using buckets. The Hering family has been cooking in Waterville since the late 1800s. Everything is different now. Beginning about three years ago, the Herings began a rapid expansion and upgrade to their operation, most notably dumping the buckets for good. MORE ]


Ocean State sugarmaker enjoys his niche

Peter Gregg | November 2016

The sap was running at Charlie Chase’s farm on Feb. 28. And so was Charlie.

A professed people person, he has not been shy to go in any direction within 20 miles of his farm to just about every residence with a maple tree and ask to tap it.

“I go around and knock on doors and offer them half a pint to tap their maples,” he said. “If I get a quart per tap, I come out way ahead.”


Sorghum season

Peter Gregg | Nov. 3, 2016

It’s late October and John Williamson of Shaftsbury, Vt. will soon be boiling in the sugarhouse. But not maple—sorghum. MORE ]


Another rookie goes big from the get-go

Peter Gregg |

Following a recent trend in the maple industry, another young sugarmaker has decided to go into the business in a big way. MORE ]


750,000 taps to start ...

Peter Gregg |

The nation’s biggest maple operation plans to have 200,000 taps or more in for this season and has already made syrup this month, getting a jump on the season. MORE ]


Green Giant

Peter Gregg |

Vermont sugarmaker’s massive new sugarhouse leaves small carbon footprint MORE ]


Branon family values

Peter Gregg |

Venerable Vermont sugaring family has passion for proper tapping MORE ]


Crown Maple expands to mountainside in Vermont

Peter Gregg |

Crown Maple races to install 75,000 taps in Vermont MORE ]