In this week's Travel Report, our Valarie D'Elia has some advice on how to tap into the very first signs of spring in Dutchess County.
When winter finally loosens its grip, it gives way to a delicious change of seasons.
"This is the time for when the sap flows in the spring. It's when it's most productive and has the most sugar content coming from our red and sugar maples on our 800 acres here in Dutchess County, New York," says Jacob Griffin of Madava Farms.
"Sugar house" seems like too rustic a term for this state-of-the-art operation. The sleek one-and-a-half-year-old Madava Farms could easily be mistaken for a swanky Napa Valley vineyard. Instead of wine, it bottles Crown Maple Syrup, a process tourists can peak at during spring weekends.
"It’s awesome. It's kind of cool to see how it's made. I didn't realize there was such intense machines to make it. It's really cool to see, and to see the different colors and how they make it and how they purify it, it's pretty cool," says visitor Anne Marie Leamy.
Instead of old-fashioned buckets, Madava's sap flows from the trees to the tanks through a network of tubes leading to collection houses.
Madava's tours include a tasting of five grades of syrup, including maple sugar. A farm stand sells a variety of sweet treats and sandwiches with local ingredients.
As for the quality of this year's product, it depends on the weather.
"You have to have the combination of freezing nights and warm days for that sap to flow from the trees," Griffin says.
Madava is one of 23 maple farms in the Catskills region participating in the upcoming Maple Weekend celebration, which will take place during the last two weekends of March.