Tuesday, September 11, 2007


Ralph Cooley Sr. made syrup on the side of the road on Route 66 in Ghent from the 1930s all the way to the 1990s. He was such a redoubtable figure the newspaper The Independent did a full page feature story on him in the early 1990s. It showed his lines connected to his sugarbush and it showed the elderly but sturdy renowned dairy farmer and cattle breeder standing over a boiling steaming vat of sap, watching the clear liquid simmer down to maple syrup. Back in those days it was not uncommon for schools to take class trips to Mr. Cooley's sugarshack so he could explain the magic of sugarmaking.

I have long wanted a winery. But I didn't know anything about syrup. But the more history I learned about Mr. Cooley and the former Brisklea Farms the more I got in touch with my sugarmaking side. I started to get into syrups, spured on by my Vermont brother-in-law Robin Hoover, who converted me to dark Grade B syrups some years ago.

I contacted some local sugarmakers through the good folks at Cornell. Dominique and I found seveal local folks. They helped us with securing local syrup and the instructions necessary to bottle. And we worked with Beth's Farm Kitchen to bottle, since they have so much experience canning and bottling, and they have a professional kitchen. Ralph Cooley's grandson, also named Ralph, and our Farm Manager, also helped out.

Today, we offer free tastings of our three grades of syrups - Grade A Amber, Grabe B Dark Rustic, and our own invention, Dirty Syrup. All three are 100% natural and we offer them just like a wine tasting. Visitors taste the thick nectars light to dark in tasting glasses. Come in and see what all the fuss is about.


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