In Winterport, maple syrup production runs in the family

Published: Mar. 22, 2023 at 6:08 PM EDT
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WINTERPORT, Maine (WABI) - This year marks the 40th anniversary of Maine Maple Sunday. The event has become so popular many sugarhouses celebrate all weekend long.

That’ll be the case for Back Ridge Sugar House in Winterport.

“You get addicted to doing this, and I don’t know what it is. There’s something about it that just drives you to keep going bigger and bigger and bigger,” said Josh Knipping, owner, Back Ridge Sugar House.

Josh started small in the world of maple syrup, making it as a kid with his grandparents up in Greenville.

“Riding on the back of an old Ski-Doo snowmobile up through the woods with my grandfather and grabbing the milk jugs off the trees. Just being in the house with my grandmother cooking it down on a stove, an old wood-fired cookstove. Just the fond memories of it, you know of an old time tradition that’s now kind of become mainstream,” Josh said.

His production is increasingly high-tech, with new machinery and a recently renovated space on Boston Road in Winterport.

“We tried to make it as old school looking and authentic sugarhouse as possible even though we’re modernized with the equipment,” Josh said.

Josh gets some help from family, but sometimes this labor of love can feel overwhelming. So much so, that there have been times that he’s wanted to quit.

One person in particular kept him going.

“My mother, she was a huge advocate for this place,” Josh said.

Molly Knipping passed away from pancreatic cancer in 2018. Even now, she’s helping Josh keep going, thanks to a recipe she made sure to write down before her death.

“My mother came up with a maple popcorn recipe that is just ridiculous. And we have people come here now every year and get just the popcorn. So it is a huge hit,” Josh said.

From Molly’s maple popcorn to Back Ridge’s bourbon syrup – it’ll all be on display this weekend.

Josh invites everyone to stop by and learn more about his passion that runs in the family.

“I love having people come in and get to show them the building and the equipment and explain the process. The kids, you know, the smells, and everything about it.”

To see a full list of sugarhouses participating in Maine Maple Sunday Weekend, visit