WRITER | CANDIE CONAT
PHOTOS | CHRISTI PETERSON AND BOB DEJONGE
In 2008, Christi and Todd Petersen were happily settled in their home near Walloon Lake, thinking they would be there forever. But, as Christi puts it, God had a different plan for the family. When presented with the chance to purchase an 80-acre parcel of land loaded with sugar maple trees, the couple felt it was their calling to build a new home there. Soon, they were tapping maple trees and doing what is referred to as “backyard sugaring,” which was a great experience for their children, Luke, Haley, Kyle, and Maggie. It wasn’t long before Todd expressed a strong desire to start a real sugar bush. It took some convincing, but Christi agreed, and soon construction of Maple Moon Sugarbush began.
Their first season was a leap of faith for sure, as the Petersens were complete novices at tapping trees and cooking sap for commercial production. There were only six months until the start of the season, and they had a lot of work ahead of them. Thousands of trees required tapping and miles of tubing were needed to connect the trees to the newly constructed sugar house – not to mention the need for commercial cooking equipment. The couple put everything they had into this exciting new venture.
With no experience in this new world of maple syrup, the Petersens relied on the kindness of others in the industry to help and guide them, and they were not disappointed. But due to uncommon weather patterns that year that resulted in a short growing season, they were able to process only 50 percent of their expected crop.
The Petersens held strong and continued to move forward, expanding their skills and creating unique products with their “liquid gold.” Currently, Maple Moon’s most popular syrup product is Bourbon Aged Maple Syrup. The syrup is poured into Buffalo Trace bourbon barrels while it’s still hot and is left to age for six months, after which, Christi says, “it will melt you in your shoes; it is that good.” Along with their magical syrups, Maple Moon offers other sweet treats in the form of maple candy, maple sugar, maple cream, and even maple root beer.
Maple Moon continued to expand, and in 2015 the Petersens ventured into making wine and hard cider. Maple syrup lacks the acidity of grapes, offering a unique flavor palate that allows for a diverse product line. Their Maple Royal dessert wine flies off the shelves, and the Maple Ginger Hard Cider offers a refreshing change of pace. The Maple Gold wine is to die for. Christi describes it as a “better than port-style wine” that explodes with bourbon flavor and has a maple finish. She truly enjoys seeing the look of pleasant surprise on the faces of visitors when sampling products in the tasting room. “Our guests are amazing, and it’s so fun to watch them fall in love with our unique wines and ciders.”
At Maple Moon, it’s not just about the syrup, wine, cider, or the many other sweet treats you can find. The Petersens strive to make a visit to Maple Moon unforgettable for the entire family. Not only will you find the store and tasting room, they also have fun family games, special Maple Moon ice cream created by Moomers, and they even offer a special Kids Day every year in May.
Maple Moon Sugarbush and Winery
4454 Atkins Road
Petoskey, MI 49770