Spring is here and there are plenty of reasons to be excited: longer days, warmer weather, and if you’re in Nova Scotia, it’s maple sugar season. With the warmer temperatures, the sap in Nova Scotia’s sugar maple trees starts flowing, which means maple syrup, maple sugar, maple cream and many other maple treats are abundant – and in high demand.

March is the perfect time for a getaway, so some friends and I headed to Nova Scotia’s Northumberland Shore for a little R&R, some Nova Scotia wine, and maple. Before we get into the tasting, let’s quickly run through a maple lexicon:

  • Maple syrup – pure maple-y deliciousness in liquid form. Highly prized among Canadians, possibly suitable as currency or pancake topping. The real thing is pricier than other syrups, but a little goes a long way. (Also, the subject of a $30 million theft in Quebec last year.)
  • Maple sugar – crystallized maple syrup after all of the water has been evaporated off. Use instead of regular sugar, or in my favourite way, with sea salt, pepper, and a little garlic as a popcorn topping. It’s life-changing.
  • Maple cream – not creamy at all, it’s maple syrup that’s been boiled and paddled into bar (or other form). Eaten as-is for major sugar shock.

What’s the takeaway from this? Nova Scotia maple products are usually maple in its best form: 100% pure.

Day 1: Maple Wine?!

Located a short drive from my weekend retreat in Malagash, Nova Scotia, Jost Vineyards hosts an annual maple festival. Conveniently, this was happening the weekend of my visit, so I happily took advantage of the maple treats on hand. First, more traditional maple goods from the folks at Swan’s Maple Products in nearby Annan, Colchester County. With plenty of samples on-hand, I was able to get a quick maple fix, and stock up on some delicious maple cream.

I love sampling Nova Scotia wines anyway, so I was delighted to sample some of Jost’s unique maple dessert wine, along with a thematically-appropriate maple cookie.

Nova Scotia maple wine Jost Vineyards Malagash

The wine is a great finish for a special meal, either as a beverage or a decadent dessert by serving it on ice cream. I’m enjoy simple pleasures, so a glass of wine with a cookie is fine by me!

With that, I continued on with my Northumberland adventure, but I’ll have more to say about my trip to the Northumberland Shore and Jost in the days ahead, including a nod to most unexpected American celebrity.

Day 2: The best maple treat ever

With Day 1 leaving me with just a taste of the sweet stuff, on Day 2 I was determined to find maple nirvana. Those familiar with the joy of maple know the best way to eat it is on freshly-fallen snow. Luckily, Nova Scotia’s winter has stayed a little longer than usual, so when I got to Sugar Moon Farm in Earltown, Colchester County,  there was plenty of the white stuff around to enjoy with the sweet stuff.

Sugar Moon Farm is known locally for being a top maple destination. In addition to their shop featuring lots of sweet treats, there’s a pancake house and top-notch restaurant, which is famous year-round for its “chef’s nights.” A tour of the sugar shack and walking/snowshoe trails (with snowshoe rental), makes for a fun day of outdoor adventure.

Being a returning visitor, the most important thing on my Sugar Moon Farm agenda was the sweetest treat of all: hot maple syrup poured over fresh snow, then rolled up on a stick, lollipop-style. I visited on a particularly crisp day, which caused the maple to form large crystals when it hit the snow. Perfection.

After getting fuelled on maple delight, I followed the sap line on a short, lovely walk through the sugar maple trees. Be sure to wear sturdy footwear, and for those up for some real fun, rent some snowshoes and follow the sap line deep into the woods.

Sugar season can be a little hectic, so Sugar Moon has put together some helpful tips for visiting. It’s a perfect day trip from many parts of Nova Scotia, even nearby New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island, one that I look forward to every year.

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