Tonoloway Farm Brings More than Maple to the 2024 Maple Festival

Situated high on the Bullpasture Mountain in McDowell is Tonoloway Farm with their newer sugar house sending steam into the atmosphere and boiling down that sweet Highland County sugar water into syrup, but it isn’t just the maple variety in the evaporator up here. 


Tonoloway Farm is named after the Tonoloway formation, a limestone feature within the karst topography of the Alleghany highlands. This Tonoloway limestone defines the farm, with outcroppings shaping the fields and forests, karst caves providing spring water, and the limestone itself giving alkaline properties to the soil. Hardwoods grow well here and the Herby and Shepherd-Rattigan families tap them to make maple and walnut syrup. They also make hickory and cider syrups and grow mushrooms and garlic on the property.


Here’s Will Shepherd with more about Tonoloway Farm syrups:


“Walnut is our biggest focus here and part of that is because most of the trees are walnut, we have more walnuts than anything else. It’s a challenging one because it happens the same time as maple and it has a delicious flavor. I think it’s my favorite syrup. It’s got sort of a nutty flavor, and some people say butterscotch, and there’s a little bit of a bourbon flavor,” said Shepherd.


“Then we do hickory which has a smoky flavor, and it’s not tapped, it’s made from the bark of the shagbark hickory. I think it tastes a little like smoky cotton candy. A lot of people make cocktails with it and glazes on fish.”


“Then we make cider syrup. We partner with Troddenvale out of Warm Springs. They press cider, bring it here and then we boil it down into a syrup. That’s a very tart, delicious syrup. It’s also more of a culinary syrup, people use it in marinades and dressings,” added Shepherd.


Located at 9943 Highland Turnpike in McDowell, Tonoloway Farm will be open both Saturdays and Sundays of Maple Festival with tours and tastings. Families are also welcome to visit the hiking trails on the property to see the cattle and shiitake logs. It’s a beautiful experience and a wonderful stop, especially if you’re coming to the festival from the east on 250. 

Story By


Brit Chambers

Brit Chambers is a resident of Highland County, Virginia and a news reporter for Allegheny Mountain Radio. She loves living in a small town and relishes the outdoor adventures and community feeling that Highland has to offer. Brit has a background in journalism, marketing, and public relations and spends her free time reading good books, baking sourdough bread, and hiking with her family.

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