CORFU, 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.
For the past decade The Stein Family has harvested, processed and sold their Pure New York Maple Syrup across Western New York. Before starting their business making maple syrup was a family tradition.
"Each year we would tap trees and then load up the kids, travel into the property, start a fire using an old burning barrel and homemade 2 X 6 evaporator and boil down our sap," Amy said. "We made enough for our own use and to gift to family, friends, and neighbors. It was so much work and was not easy but boy was it fun.”
The Steins relive their initial syrup making memories by participating in the New York Maple Association's Maple Weekend. Stein children Josh, Matthew, Paul David, and William are also involved.
“The kids help during Maple Weekend and we are grateful for their help I would love to see them here working full time but our operation is not big enough for that,” Al said.
“Maple weekend is really important to us and we thank the association for developing the weekend, promoting, and executing it. Each year roughly 1,000 guests come to our farm to learn about maple production, it makes up 20 percent of our annual sales,” Al said.
Tours, a delicious food truck, sharing advice and tips on the trade, inviting family and neighbors, and watching parents and their children learn together gets them out of bed each day.
“I really really really enjoy teaching people how maple is produced and I am excited to have baby animals for kids to enjoy when they visit.” Al said.
Outside of marketing the trade and their products during Maple Weekend the Steins sell their product through wholesale channels. Local restaurants; Linda’s Dinner and Kaboodles serve the syrup. Retail outlets; Berried Treasures Gifts, Kutter’s Cheese Factory, Squeeze Juicery, and The Alden Deli sell the Stein’s syrup and maple products.
Al and Amy have 1,200 taps on their property and that of two other neighbors. They are operating on a 5/16th’s vacuum system and a five horse power vacuum pump. The Steins replace their drop lines every other year.
In 2016 The Steins purchased a brand new 3 X 10 evaporator.
“It was really a lot of fun to go pick up our purchase at CDL,” Al said. In 2017 the operation showcased their new evaporator and opened a brand new sugar house in the neighboring dairy barn they purchased after years of dreaming about it being theirs.
“He is a planner, he has a plan for today and tomorrow, for ten years from now and even twenty,” Amy said.
“What I am doing today is for our operation twenty years from now and beyond,” Al says. “I get nervous about maple every day because it is a lot of work and a ton of risk. There are days I worry that I won’t get it all done but where there is a will there is a way.”
To manage risk, learn more, and become more efficient The Steins visit with other producers often. They also read a lot and attend multiple maple schools each year. Amy learned everything she knows about maple candy and maple cream through these channels. Trial and error, attending maple schools, watching tutorials online, and continuing to learn is all part of the Stein’s production process.
Amy Stein works hard to make maple candy and maple cream throughout the year for resale.
“We needed a commercial kitchen to make these products and finally put one on the barn. I purchased cupboards five years ago for my house and they ended up in the barn kitchen.”