Rest assured, Spring is Within Reach – Our 2018 Maple Syrup Season Update

Often, and I mean quite often while running the usual grocery store, gas station and hardware store errand in town (be it Lutsen or Grand Marais), I get asked:

“How’s the Maple Syrup?”

To which I reply (in January and February): “It’s still in the trees, I hope.”

It’s common to be asked by our neighbors who know us and our woods-work these wonderful questions. And we love to answer them because we are so passionate and exited about our sugar farming. So how is the maple syrup? Well there is some exiting news to talk about in this blog and forthcoming blogs; about what’s new in the sugar bush, and what’s cool about our current and new customers.

In January (on the 23rd  precisely) Chris, Kirstin, Calvin, Ian and Greg charged up their drills, shouldered their tap packs, rallied the dogs and marched out of the sugar house to begin the task of tapping 24k+ trees. We can attest that there have been some incredibly beautiful winter days and some, well, down right exotic days. Brrrr!

Below watch Kirstin at work tapping maple trees.

As of today 99% of the sugar bush is fully tapped and we are in the preparation stage to our seasonal harvest.

Click to see full image

Dropping off the tank at the sugar bush. A big thanks to local mechanic Joe Hall … Like a boss!

Click to see full image

Installation complete, the new sap tank in place. Now to the roof …

One new addition is here!

You may be interested to know of the arrival of a new 4800-gallon sap tank. It was delivered two days ago and installed on Thursday the 22nd.




In the coming days Chris and Calvin will finish the Sugar House extension with a metal-roofed canopy that will cover both the 4500 tank and the new 4800 sap tank.  Hook up the plumbing and “Bob’s-your-Uncle!”.  Now we’re talking capacity!

As we progress to the cusp of Spring, transfer lines will be connected and some lines will be sloped and then the whole network will be tested together under vacuum. Like tuning a giant orchestra for the big concert!  The sugarhouse will get some reorganizing, the membranes will be installed in to our Reverse Osmosis (RO) machine. The evaporator will be given a final vacuuming, assembled, polished and hooked to the plumbing and finally the tanks will be washed diligently while we await that first call of our 2018 season: “SAPS RUNNIN’!”

If I may suggest … On your next visit to Minnesota’s northland, stop by Wild Country’s little store for a bottle of Pure Maple Syrup and other fun things – it’s always open! Snowmobilers can easily zip off the State Trail on their way up or down the shore to visit our farm – the trail crosses our driveway. If you like snowshoeing there’s plenty of trail blazing to be done (and appreciated) just send us a note if you’re up for the task. I’d keep the cross-country skiing to the trails but after, come enjoy our farms marvel of tubing and taps while you snack on a maple caramel or pick up a bottle of Minnesota north shore country maple syrup.

As I write the maple blog today, abundant snow-fall graces our North Shore again adding another foot or two to our snowpack. The winter won’t be long lived as we hear often the Pileated woodpecker drumming and the Chickadees singing their spring song to the increasing sun’s intensity and the longer days. Life is on the way again in our frozen land – Just give it a couple weeks and the trees will be awake giving their sweet nectar that we will transform into a delicious treat to top your pancakes or lattes!

Tapper Greg

Northern winter comfort in the Sawtooth Mountains

Violent November winds produced a disturbance in the force.  Many branches and trees down on the lines … Wouldn’t it be nice to wield a light-saber-chainsaw?

On this November day, a very different landscape has materialized and we now find ourselves working our sugarbush within the fringe of much cooler weather. Perhaps the “lunatic fringe”? But we welcome this pre-season to our approaching 2018 harvest with open arms.

Much of our region has little or no snow, and very little has been collected along the Hwy 61 corridor to date – But here in the elevations of the Sawtooth Mountain range, we’re flush! However, we are not just yet needing the snowshoes to navigate our lines as we continue to repair and prep and talk to the maple trees. Yes, we speak comfort and good blessings to our trees. It’s included in our production!

With the descending winter, holidays etc, some of us turn our thoughts and hearts to the comforts of food and beverage – with a little REAL maple syrup of course to make things right. And here are a few of my favorite things:

Waffles! What a great afternoon snack, and if you have a toaster here’s what I like to do:

Mmmm … comfort food!

Make and freeze your waffles ahead of time. That way you can answer your craving immediately! I prefer a homemade buttermilk recipe, but you could just as easily hit up the frozen section for a box at your grocery store if you don’t own a waffle maker:

Buttermilk Waffles (from Better Homes)
1-3/4 cup All-Purpose flour
2 Tbsp Sugar
1 Tsp Baking Powder
1/2 Tsp Baking Soda
1/4 Tsp Salt
2 Eggs
2 Cups Buttermilk
1/2 Cup Cooking Oil or Butter – melted
1 Tsp Vanilla

Mix your dry and wet ingredients separately then combine, mix together and cook. Let the waffles thoroughly cool, then pop ’em in the freezer for your future comfort cravings.

Personally, I like to dip the corners of the waffle in the maple syrup much like you would dip fresh baked bread in a little olive oil and balsamic vinaigrette with fresh cracked pepper … ooo,  now there’s another comfort food idea to enjoy with your favorite beverage.

Maple Marzen – by Castle Danger Brewery

A BOLD fall/winter beverage If I may suggest! Our good friends at Castle Danger Brewery released a very special seasonal beer this past fall: “Maple Marzen” It was lagered over the summer with traditional German malts and hops and blended with local maple syrup.

Here are a couple highlights you may not be aware of:

  • This lovely Maple Marzen beverage’s ingredients use 100% Organic REAL Maple Syrup from the Sawtooth Mountain Maple Syrup Company, and
  •  5% of the proceeds are donated to the Superior Hiking Trail (SHT). Now that’s cool!

Find Maple Marzen along the North Shore by clicking the map or on the Castle Danger Brewery website.

It’s only available on-tap in taverns and at the Castle Danger Brewery, where you may purchase a to-go growler as well.  Where to find this Maple Marzen along the North Shore drive? Click the map image or visit their website for more information.

Oh, and that’s not all! Coming soon, Castle Danger Brewery will be re-introducing their signature “Big Dumb Stout” featuring, you guessed it, our 100% REAL Maple Syrup and to be found only in their tap room … if you are a craft beer lover, I highly recommend stopping at their Two Harbors tap room for a snit on your way up the north shore.


Autumn Bliss, ya’ just can’t miss!

Regarding the colors here on the north shore in four words; “Fall is not done!”

There is still plenty to enjoy! The tree crowns are about peaked but the understory is lightening and that perfect window of viewing opportunity is here, but closing.

Visit Wild Country Maple Syrup’s onsite store here in Lutsen.

There are a few calendar items left to do before all is transitioned to a winter landscape, and more.

The latest addition is the annual Lutsen Communtiy Potluck Celebration happening October 10th between 5:30pm and 7pm at the Lutsen Townhall on the Caribou Trail. Bring a dish to share. Prizes, fun and  food!



Don’t forget to stock up on a season’s worth of Pure Maple Syrup!

If you just can’t be here this fall, enjoy a video of a short drive down our driveway!


Fall Color Tour 2017 – Inspirational ideas and resources

A lone maple tree on the driveway begs for attention and is indicative of the coming seasonal change. It’s Fall color time here in the sugarbush with lots to do and see! Pancakes and waffles never tasted so good in the fall, and it is certainly a great idea to stock up on REAL Wild Country Maple Syrup while you’re visiting the North Shore!

For the leaf peeper, the Minnesota DNR has a wonderful resource for when is a good time to see the Fall colors here in Cook County. Check here for more info! Fall Color Tour signs are placed along some of our most popular routes in the Tofte/Lutsen and the Gunflint area, Tour maps can be downloaded online or picked up at the Tofte and Gunflint Ranger Stations. 

Here is a list of Fall events and fun things to do when you visit:

  • Radio Waves Music Festival September 8-10, 2017, Grand Marais, sponsored by WTIP North Shore community radio. Check here for more info!
  • Lutsen Pancake Breakfast  September 17, 2017,  8am to 11:30am at the Lutsen Town Hall sponsored by the Lutsen Fire Department. Wild Country Maple Syrup will be on your table.
  • Lutsen Fall-der-all Community Yard Sale
    September 30, 2017, 9am to 2pm in the lower parking lot of the Lutsen Clear View mall.
  • Art Along the Lake – Fall Studio Tour
    September 29th – October 8th, 2017. Occurring during the same 10 day time-frame, the new Art Along the Lake-Fall Studio Tour will feature the same Cook county studios as Crossing Borders, with the addition of many new open studios and galleries. Check here  for a map and a list of participants.
  • Lutsen Community Potluck Celebration
    October 10th, 2017, 5:30pm to 7:30pm at the Lutsen Townhall on the Caribou Trail. Bring a dish to share and an enjoy prizes, fun and food!
  • Moose Madness in Grand Marais
    October 20th – 22nd, 2017. Throughout Moose Madness weekend, there are activities for everyone.  Activities range from the athletic to the artistic and kids will win “moose bucks” to spend on prizes when they do scavenger hunts, races and arts activities around town. Check here for more info!

Additionally, our favorite craft beer brewers will be releasing their newest products featuring  Sawtooth Mountain Maple Syrup Company Grade A maple syrup! Visit Castle Danger Brewing in Two Harbors and Fulton Beer in Minneapolis for soon to be released craft maple brews!

There are so many other fun and inventive things you can do while you visit the Fall colors of Cook County. Be inspired here!










Putting to bed 2017 sugaring season

Pulling spouts

As we worked to conclude our season pulling spouts from trees and washing the lines and such. The weather, uncooperative as it has been this spring, did not change it’s on-and-off performances. Is it winter or are we going to enjoy Bloodroots and Spring Beauties? Not so much, we got all flavors. But the final tap was pulled and the final line was washed Sunday evening April 30th and just in time to beat the next weather event – which fizzled – and black fly season.

Our season was good, yielding a quart of maple syrup per tap. We like that, and the syrup though not overly abundant like in years past, had spectacular flavors!

Here’s where to buy it: Wild Country Maple Syrup

Up Next:
May 20th, Minnesota Maple Syrup Producers Association (MMPSPA) meeting in Two Harbors, Minnesota


Michael Baker of Wild Country Maple Syrup pulls the final spout of the 2017 season!

Ta-Da! Season Finale …

Quite a season as we perform our finale for 2017. It’s hard to quit when the sap keeps flowing, but all good things come to an end.

Looking back over the daily journal for 2017, this season proved to be the earliest on record starting our first boil on February 19. Our conclusion was April 14th. Not a record breaking season for us, but we made really great tasting syrup. The majority of the maple syrup we produced being Dark Amber (Grade A).

The last phase of our season, is preparation for the 2018 season; Line cleaning!

If you are reading this, are a local and looking for a short-term job working in our sugarbush. Please contact us. Must be physically fit and able to carry a water-pack weighing 35lbs.

Here is the Wisconsin Sap Report from Roth Sugarbush.

Waiting for the BIG flow …

Included video here – When changing the flow direction of the syrup across the pan, we draw off 15 gallons and change sides. Put it back in to the pan for finishing, wait a little bit and Bob’s your uncle …

There’s never a guarantee as to how much sap we’ll get in a day. Big flows are illusive and we’re hoping in the coming weeks it will hit. Temperatures forecasted look conducive!

Slow and steady wins the race …

Since April 1st we’ve been making a lot of Dark Amber – Grade A, and buttery flavored at roughly 325-350 gallons a day.

Sugar Content has been holding at 2.5, which is good. But could be better. The sugar sand has been nominal and our pan cleanings have escalated to an every other day thing.

Here’s the Sap report from Wisconsin, seems they’re on the end run. But we’re doing great here in NE Minnesota

Maple Sugaring in Lutsen Rebroadcast on Fox 21 Duluth

Out of town, out of state or just out of your mind (like I am) and you missed last nights broadcast on Fox 21 in Duluth, here it is again in living color … “really great presentation about our sugarbush and Wild Country Maple Syrup!”

Follow this link:

Maple Syrup Producing on the North Shore by Brittney Merlot of Fox 21 KQDS Duluth

ps: I’d be happy to perform that sap dance, if you buy a pint of maple syrup!

TV Sweet Treat!

Hello everyone, here’s our sugarbush update for Sunday April 2nd:

It’s been a busy week for sugaring. Big runs these last few days have brought us to 50% our seasonal crop. “Doing well!”  I’d say … and the sap keeps flowing!

Brittney Merlot from Duluth’s KQDS Fox 21 TV News, interviews Carrie Baker of Wild Country Maple Syrup – Click the picture to zoom –  because it’s really cute. Very fun!

This past Thursday, we got a visit from Brittney Merlot, Meteorologist of KQDS Fox 21 in Duluth. Northland folks are in for a treat this evening to see and hear all about our maple sugaring from the tree to the bottler.

I’m thinking this will be cool and not embarrassing because every time I get in front of the camera I go blah, blah, blah. It was exciting to have a Duluth TV station visiting us and Brittney was so nice and accommodating about interviewing during our seasonal business schedule.  I’m sure everyone else did great, especially our partners, Wild Country Maple Syrup. We’re really excited for them because they’ve worked so hard to build their business.

Anyhow let me know how the program goes, we don’t have TV here and of course, we’ll be busy boiling!

Here’s the Sap Report from Roth Sugarbush in Wisconsin.

Enjoy your week!

Stalled and On Call

A bit of a broken record, I know, we wait for the weather to become conducive to sugaring.

However this past week we boiled, on Tuesday.

Mostly Medium Amber with a strong “Mapley” flavor. Sugar content of the sap was 2.4%. The one unusual part of the day’s boil was the temperature for drawing off finished syrup at the proper gravity and brix. 218 degrees! The barometric pressure 30.22, and humidity at 49%. Would elevation be a factor too? I’m sure.

Anyhow, a couple hundred gallons later and we are back in a holding pattern. This coming week’s weather looks more promising.

Here’s the Roth Sugarbush sap report from Wisconsin, March 23rd!

If you are a maple syrup producer here on the North Shore from Duluth to Grand Portage, shoot me an update via our contact page. We’d enjoy reporting notes about what’s going on in your sugarbush whether you have a bag or bucket on a tree, or a few thousand taps. Just remember to include your sugarbush name, the number of taps you manage and what you’re cookin’! Other fun observations welcome too, like humming bird migration, moose visits, repairs from wind, ice or squirrel …

Here’s a repost of our sugarbush video, and may the sun and the weather be ever in your favor …