Driving between the majestic blue-granite pillars and up, up the long road edged by tall maple trees to Crown Maple Syrup’s sugarhouse at Madava Farms, I was immediately reminded of the many trips I’ve made to the great wineries of California. The similarities continued in Crown Maple’s tasting room. The artisanship on display (complete with shiny stainless steel holding tanks and bottling lines) was not what I was expecting in rural Dover Plains, New York. Nor was it what I was expecting of a maple syrup producer. Clearly, I’d gotten it all wrong.
Owner Robb Turner launched his business three years ago with a big vision and little interest in doing things the conventional way. Ninety miles of lines bring sap from 25,000 trees to the sugarhouse, where a high-tech reverse-osmosis process separates out the water before boiling. The three syrup varieties made—light, medium and dark amber—often end up at amazing restaurants. These include April Bloomfield’s The Spotted Pig in New York City, as well as Crown Maple’s on-site cafe, run by chef Jacob Griffin. (The syrups are available online at crownmaple.com.)
Scott Boggs, a former French Laundry cook turned farmer, oversees the operation and barrel-tastes to ensure consistency, just as a winemaker would. Boggs explains that the syrups bring a nuance to dishes and drinks that you could never get from white sugar. I’m making the Maple-Bourbon Smash and maple-brined pork, just to be sure.