L’Érablière Denis Côté Inc
We talked with Denis Côté about his maple syrup and sap water operation.
Tell us about your operation:
We’re located in the Saint-Quentin area, which is known as the maple capital of the Atlantic. I’m a third generation maple producer - my son and daughter are the fourth generation working here. The Côté family sugarbush has about 100,000 taps over 400 hectares. It’s physical work, carrying equipment into the forest on snowshoes. We install spouts and tubing early in the year and remove it all for sterilizing at the end of the season. The tubing carries maple water to one of 31 pumping stations. We stay up-to-date with the latest technologies. For example, each line has sensors that monitor the temperature and the tension of the sap. If anything goes wrong - like maybe a squirrel chews through a line - we know about it and can quickly make repairs.
Our state of the art processing plant opened in 2013. The maple sap goes through reverse osmosis which removes some of the sap water. The remaining concentrated maple water is boiled in evaporators into syrup. We produce close to 460,000 pounds of maple syrup per year. We also bottle the pure sap water as a value-added product.
Why did you become certified organic?
There’s a demand for organic maple syrup. We sell our product all across Canada and to the US and Europe. The difference for organic maple syrup starts with the way the forest is managed but the big difference is in the products that are used to clean the equipment. The spouts, tubes, evaporator - all the equipment - is cleaned with products approved for organic production. We also use organic approved sunflower oil as a defoamer.
What’s been your biggest challenge?
We're working on marketing. Almost half of our maple syrup is sold in bulk; we’d like to be able to sell more of it under the Davia brand. We’re also working to increase awareness about the health benefits of maple water. It’s not a well known product so we need to get the word out to consumers. We’re also trying to increase consumer awareness around packaging. Traditional glass bottles are expensive, heavy and difficult to transport. Our newer recyclable bags are more environmentally friendly and a way to reduce our footprint.
What gets you out of bed in the morning?
Well, this is my 51st season in the sugarbush. It’s in the blood, like spring fever! I guess I’m addicted!
Where to buy:
You can order Davia products from the Daviabio website or purchase at Sobeys, Atlantic Cosco (Moncton area), and local stores around Saint-Quentin, NB.
You may also find some of Denis’ sap water and season-end syrup transformed into spirits at the Moonshine Creek Distillery in Waterville, NB.