As news reports of the number of Vermont mom-and-pop businesses devastated by Hurricane Irene continues to grow, Christian Stromberg of Sapling Liqueur contacted us to offer the micro-distiller's perspective on the challenges in store for small food and beverage producers.
"Without power at home it's hard to stay up on what is actually happening," he told us via an email interview, adding that he found a creative solution. "Luckily, I was able to trade liquor for a generator."
Stomberg makes his maple syrup liqueur in extremely small batches, so it is only in Vermont and surrounding states. But thanks to a coincidental trucking arrangement, it also happens to be on a few liquor store shelves in L.A. He ships two pallets, each with 450 bottles, to California each year.
The distillery was spared from the river's wrath. "Normally this is a nice swimming hole," he says of this video of the river raging after the storm. "But the dams did their job, so sapling will continue to flow into California."
He's still not sure whether all of his maple syrup suppliers were as lucky. "I took a difficult bike ride to visit a maple syrup maker who lives on a branch of the river," writes Stromberg. "He was flooded, but luckily his house wasn't washed away. He was tired, but asked if I needed more syrup. I told him I'd work on sales."
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Sales may prove tricky if fall festivals and other events that Stomberg has on the promotion agenda are cancelled. "I have shows around the state coming up" he says. "One is outside of Wilmington, Vermont -- look up that town and you'll see it's not looking so good. Of course, no one wants tourists to change their plans because these shows and festivals are important revenue."
Yeah, we just put a few extra bottles of maple syrup and Sapling Liqueur on our grocery list, too.