This past weekend was the last of the Maple Weekends in New York State. For two weekends (March 21 – 22 and March 28-29) almost 160 maple producers throughout New York State held open houses for visitors to see how maple syrup is made, tour their facilities and offer samples. My family took an hour drive to Dutchess County, New York to Madava Farms, home of Crown Maple.
Madava Farms is located in Dover Plains, New York and sits on 800 acres of land. As you drive through the gates, the farm lets you know it is a modern operation. We were expecting perhaps a bunch of buckets tapped into the maple trees and a rustic collection of wooden buildings. Maybe there would be a smoky fire cooking down the sap at the sugar shack. We were way off. The facilities look brand new and whoever designed and built the property spared no expense. Instead of buckets, all the surrounding trees are snaked with miles of plastic tubing carrying the sweet sap directly to the gleaming holding tanks.
Outside the main building there was a fire pit where you could warm up on the brisk day or roast marshmallows. We started inside the building first though. Normally, maple tours cost $10 per adult and $5 per child. During the Maple Weekend open house, our “tour” was free. I say “tour” in quotes, since it was a more relaxed, self-guided tour, versus the sixty-minute guided tour that you pay for. When we walked through the main door we were greeted by a Crown Maple employee. He gave us a map of the facilities and pointed out some of the highlights. To the right of the entrance was the Farm Stand, the eatery where you can purchase food that is seasonal and locally sourced. To the left was the shop where you could purchase maple products. We walked through the lobby and into the large dining room/evaporation room.
We started our tour in the Mural Room, named for the large painted mural on the wall. We enjoyed listening to two Crown Maple employees talk about the tree tapping process. We got to see where they stored the tap as well as where the sap is clarified and concentrated. The filtering and refining process is very efficient and modern with a lot of water removed from the sap before any cooking actually begins.
The kids’ favorite part of the trip was getting to sample maple cotton candy, popcorn and granola.
We then went into the Tasting Room and sampled maple sugar as well as four different maple syrups ranging from light amber to extra dark amber. We then got lunch at the Farmstand, where they offered a special Maple Weekend menu. The four of us shared a Crown Maple Pulled Pork Sandwich and Maple Spiced Chicken Sandwich, both served with an arugula salad on the side. They were both tasty and I enjoyed sampling dishes made with their maple syrup. After lunch we headed out to the fire pit and roasted some marshmallows and enjoyed the view.
The farm has hiking trails, which we attempted on our way out, but it was super muddy and we didn’t have appropriate footwear.
We had a great time visiting Madava Farms! Although Maple Weekends are over until next year, we highly recommend visiting. This was a fun and informative experience. We will hopefully visit Madava Farms again soon!