Where are you based out of?
We are located in Rodman, New York, in what used to be the village of Zoar (later Unionville, now Rodman) We collectively own over 200 acres of mixed forest and small pastures on alluvial soils with limestone bedrock, which we manage with permaculture methods.
We craft whole, small batch, artisanal maple syrup for B.1802
How did you get started?
Paul has been making syrups since he was a child carving taps on outer Long Island, and has continued. Zoar Tapatree started about 4 years ago when over our neighborly dinners, Paul pointed out that between us we own 10,000+ sugar maple trees (whiskey may have been involved…)
Is this your full-time focus or is this a side gig?
Both! We took the Bucolic Plague advice of Josh & Brent and are growing as we go. Paul is a retired military officer and this is his second career and first passion (right next to his wife and his miles of organic asparagus). I am the single mother of three teenagers, and a lawyer for the state of New York by day. I am doing this to maintain sanity
What is a usual day like for you?
During sap season, there is very little sleep between collecting sap and working it through the evaporators, etc. It takes 40+ gallons of sap to make 1 gallon of syrup–very intensive. Generally, we’re just up early and late. All of our days encompass this neighborly bent. We have a good balance of work, work, work, delicious food, music (Paul is in a band, and is an excellent guitarist), art (Paul’s wife is a talented textile artist), and friendships. Syrup making brings people together, and we find we end up with a lot of friendly foot traffic, particularly during “the season”!
How long is the process of making the syrup?
The process is quite extended because we are making whole, minimally processed syrups in order to capitalize on the amazingness of “real” syrup. (This is definitely the “next wave” of syrup making in our opinion. We’re stepping way back from the predominate methods of commodity syrups which have taken over the market.) From collecting through bottling, it is over a week. We evaporate in either a traditional boil, or some syrups we evaporate without boiling for our “raw” syrups. Then they are put through a light drip filter, placed in settling jars, and allowed to rest so any excess mineral can settle out without high-pressure filtration. Then we decant the syrup through another light filter into the finish evaporator where it is brought to a safe temperature and bottled. We process each flow of sap separately as each has a distinct profile, much like wine. By small batching, we can see the impact of terroir, capitalize on flavors, and utilize the syrups in exciting ways–either on their own, or blending them for special purposes (e.g., for Beekman, for specialty coffee syrups).
What did you want to be when you were little?
Paul has always wanted to be the best syrup maker in the world…and he is well on his way! I wanted to be a veterinarian, but somehow ended up being a lawyer/syrup farmer.
If you weren’t doing what you currently are, what would you be doing?
I already live a double or maybe even a triple life, so even thinking about “what else” edges me toward insanity! 😉 I think Paul is living the dream!.