As winter turns to spring, most North American ski resorts seek creative ways to keep visitors coming to their mountains. Titus Mountain Family Ski Center, located in northern New York State, is no exception. For inspiration, they only needed to look just across the Canadian border into the province of Quebec.
Quebec produces over 70% of the world’s maple syrup and the province has many maple producers, a number of whom are located at Quebec ski areas. Dene Savage, Titus Mountain Marketing Director, explains: “Ski areas in the northeastern U.S. and eastern Canada typically have large populations of beautiful sugar maples. They’re really one of the most common trees found on the lower elevations of most mountains. If you want to make maple syrup, ski areas can be extra-good, with well-drained soil and a slope to facilitate the sap collection process.”
“Maple production is good for ski areas, too. As a point-of-interest, just about everybody enjoys visiting a sugarhouse, and the sale of the products produced can be a significant new revenue source. Typically, the ‘Sugaring Season’ begins to ramp-up as the ski season begins to wind-down. The overlap between the two affords an excellent opportunity to keep folks enthusiastic about coming to the mountain.”
“We began construction of our new sugarhouse in January 2013 and started tapping trees and running sap-collection lines shortly afterwards. By March, we were producing high-quality maple syrup. We located the new sugarhouse adjacent to the Learning Center slope on our Lower Mountain, so it could feature ski-in/ski-out access and convenient parking. We also included a retail sales area and indoor/outdoor dining for the enjoyment of our patrons and visitors. There’s no question that all of this brought a new level of late-season excitement to the mountain. It’s hard to beat the sight of folks sitting in the spring sunshine, enjoying new, warm maple syrup on fresh-cooked pancakes and waffles!”
Lucien White, manager of the new maple products enterprise, went on to say: “We discovered that maple producers are really a close-knit community and we were readily welcomed into it. We were able to draw on the experience of seasoned veterans throughout the process of getting set-up and operating. Their input was invaluable.”
“Another benefit was that we were able to design and equip our production process with state-of–the-art components. This gives us the highest possible level of control over our product’s quality and consistency.”
“Our operation takes advantage of our ski area’s sloping terrain to move raw sap from the trees to bulk collection tanks through plastic lines via a combination of gravity and vacuum. Here in our first season, we had approximately 6400 taps installed and we produced 2000 gallons of syrup from the sap we collected. We are planning to install an additional 6000 taps for 2014. Hopefully, this coming spring’s weather will be as good for sugaring as this year’s was!”
In December of 2011, ownership of Titus Mountain passed to the Monette family of Malone, NY. Bruce Monette is the eldest of three brothers who oversee the family’s diverse enterprises. Mr. Monette had this to say about the new maple products business: “My brothers and I grew-up skiing at this mountain and we have a strong connection to it. We want to preserve its legacy and make it the best it can be going forward, both for our kids and for all who cherish it.”
“The first two seasons under our stewardship have been ones of continuous improvement. The addition of Moon Valley Maple is just the latest step in a long-term strategy of finding value-added ways to facilitate year-round recreational activity here at the mountain. We chose the name Moon Valley Maple because it honors the ski area’s original name when it first opened to the public in 1960—Moon Valley.”
“We are pleased with how our patrons and visitors have responded to the new operation. It quickly became a big part of our late-season activities. We started bringing bottles of syrup, still warm from the evaporator, down to the main lodge and setting them up on the bar for sale. Our biggest challenge was keeping at least some bottles on display. The appeal of warm, fresh maple syrup, especially if you’re coming in cold from the ski hill, is just irresistible!”
Additional information about Moon Valley Maple can be obtained by visiting www.moonvalleymaple.com. Moon Valley Maple is an operating unit of Titus Mountain Family Ski Center, LLC.
Please direct questions/comments regarding this release to:
Dene Savage, Marketing/IT Director
Titus Mountain, Inc., 215 Johnson Road, Malone, NY 12953
Phone: (518) 483-3740
Fax: (518) 483-2031