The 2023 sugaring season is well underway, which means Katie and Colton Blackman, owners of Killington-based First Chair Syrup, are hard at work. Like sugar makers around the state, they have to make the most of the short window of time when the weather cycle is just right for maple-syrup making—freezing nights coupled with warm, sunny days.
We’re proud to offer First Chair’s maple syrup at the Market (look for it in our special Maple Madness display, although you’ll find it year-round in the maple syrup section). Here’s an update from Katie, who graciously took the time to answer a few questions during their busiest time of year in the sugarbush.
Q. Can you tell us a little bit about the history of First Chair?
A. We started First Chair Syrup as a way to grow our passion for making pure Vermont maple syrup and to offer the product in the local community. Both of us first learned the process of making maple syrup in elementary school—Colton in Sherburne (Killington) and Katie in Brownsville. What began as a hobby has now grown into a local business. We’re proud to be featured in local stores, as well as having a retail presence through our website.
Q. Where are you located? Is there a family history component to your business?
A. We’re located in Killington, Vermont. Our sugarbush is located just off the Killington access road behind Charity’s 1887 Saloon restaurant. The sugarbush neighbors Sherburne Elementary School, where Colton first learned to make maple syrup! We definitely take pride in being a family-run business. We started the business ourselves, but each of our families have always enjoyed making their own maple syrup.
Q. How many trees do you tap?
A. This year, we tapped around 800 trees on a 40-acre parcel off of Killington’s access road.
Q. How many gallons of maple syrup do you produce in a typical year?
A. The syrup total changes each year based on how many trees we tap and the type of season, but we’ll hope to make around 300 gallons this year. We won’t know how much we’ve made until the season is over.
Q. What can you tell us about the 2023 sugaring season thus far?
A. It’s been a great sugaring year so far. We are always a little behind most sugarhouses because of the higher elevation in Killington. We don’t get as much early season syrup, but the last couple of weeks have been fantastic!
Q. How does this year compare to past years?
A. Luckily the syrup has been great this year. Since we started a little later than others, we’ve made mostly Amber syrup so far. That’s fairly common for us though, and we’ll see what the rest of the season brings!
Q. Anything else you’d like to tell us about your business?
A. As Woodstock area natives, we’re excited to produce local maple syrup that’s featured in local stores that we grew up shopping in. We’ve enjoyed growing the business to what it is today—but what we enjoy even more is sharing our maple syrup with our friends, family, and local community.