Hopping to get ready
Inside Grottoli’s Sugarhouse Saturday and Sunday was a flurry of activity. Maple Weekend is almost upon us and the family was getting ready to host visitors from all around the region starting Friday, March 18 as Grottoli’s hosts the ceremonial first tapping of the two week celebration of all things maple across the state of New York. Just after noon Friday dignitaries will gather at Grottoli’s to kick off the tastiest two weeks of the year.
“It’s a lot of work just getting ready,” owner Mike Grottoli said Saturday.
After putting in a full day of work getting the sugarhouse ready to go, Grottoli said he still had a great deal to do to be ready for everything that will happen over the last two weeks of the month.
Maple Weekend runs from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday on March 19 and 20 and March 26 and 27 when sugarhouses across, not just Granville, but the state will throw open the doors and invite the curious in for tours and samples of the various fruits of the sugarbush.
With weather after the latest storm to whack the region conducive to flowing sap, Grottoli said he could have already started boiling Saturday, but he was too busy getting decked out for company.
“It started to run for us really good (recently),” he said.
During open house weekends Grottoli’s hosts a pancake and sausage breakfast. So part of the work has been relocating the breakfast area into the sugarhouse from its former location up the driveway out back. Samples of everything from maple candy to fresh hot syrup are available at most sugarhouse locations.
While Rathbun’s is a year-round breakfast restaurant, during maple weekends horse drawn wagon rides are available as well as tours of the sugarhouse.
Like everyone else Grottoli said the snow has caused him some difficulty even as the weather warms towards spring.
Typically tapping about 2,500 trees, Grottoli said he might not get the last few hundred taps out because the going is so tough back in the woods. “I’ve worked in snow before, just not this much, but who knows, I might have time,” he said.
After last season showed a lot of promise, but then turned out to be short and sweet, those in the know say the maple season has potential to be a good one this year as well.
With little frost in the ground thanks to the thick blanket of snow acting as insulation, sap should start to flow when the temperatures begin to cooperate with sugar makers.
All of those planning to boil down the water-like sap to the amber goodness of maple syrup are hoping to see a gradual spring with temperatures in the middle-40s and overnight lows dipping back below freezing.
In any year the danger always exists that temperatures will rise too high and stay that way effectively cutting off good sap flow and even causing the maple trees to begin budding out – another reason sugarers will stop making syrup as the emergence of buds is said to effect the flavor of the sap.
Find the official Maple Weekend site at www.mapleweekend.com.
More than 110 sugarhouses dot the landscape of the Empire State, here are a few within easy reach of Granville and within Washington County.
Grottoli’s Maple, 91 Ritchie Road, Middle Granville
Rathbun’s Maple Sugar House, 1208 Hatch Hill Road, North Granville
Dry Brook Sugarhouse, 432 Chambers Road, Salem
Wild Hill Maple, 366 Carney Cassidy Road, Salem
Sugar Mill Farm, 2469 Route 29, Greenwich
Highland Maple Farm, 954 Coach Road, Argyle
Mapleland Farms, 550 Bunker Hill Road, Argyle
Rascher’s Sugarhouse, 347 Perry Hill Road, Shushan