Dorset Maple Reserve

Dorset Maple Reserve:

The secret to world-class maple syrup and a better quality of life

By Steve Schwartz

Photography by Maaike Bernstrom

In the Green Mountains of Vermont, the transition from winter to spring means one thing: sugaring season, when the trees are tapped, the sap is boiled, and turned into some of the finest maple syrup in the world.

On a 500-acre piece of land in southern Vermont, Austin Felis II and Lauren Felis are drawing their life and passion from the land, quite literally. As the husband-and-wife owners of Dorset Maple Reserve, they’re producing 5,000 gallons of maple syrup every year, by hand, and operating the entire business by themselves. We headed north to pay their farm a visit and learned the secret to creating a top-quality product while also building a better life for generations to come.



“The quality of working in the woods, taking something from nature, and then refining it into a finished product is pretty rewarding, in my opinion. There’s a lot of self-satisfaction in it. It’s a different world from most and I prefer this one,” Austin said.

AUSTIN FELIS TAPS A MAPLE TREE ON HIS FAMILY’S 500-ACRE MAPLE SYRUP FARM IN SOUTHERN, VERMONT.

Starting in mid-January, he and Lauren clean out 137 miles of tubing around their land to prepare for tapping the trees, where they then strategically drill a 6/10th-inch hole to prevent harming the sugar maple. Then, they put the entire system under a vacuum, which triggers higher production from the tree throughout the tapping process. Then, after reverse osmosis, aeration, and evaporation, they come away with a finished bottle of Dorset Maple Reserve Syrup.

“It’s a different world from most and I prefer this one.”

As Austin explained, the beauty of the syrup doesn’t necessarily come from the process, but moreso from the trees themselves. Much like grapes to wine production, a sugar maple tree is the keystone of a syrup’s flavor, color, and richness. Dorset sits atop a natural marble deposit (it contributed materials for The New York Public Library and many monuments in Washington D.C.), as well as a limestone belt, which gives Dorset syrup a “very soft, almost buttery flavor.” A product from Ohio or Canada may be wildly different from one in Vermont or even neighboring New York.

In other words, every tree and every bottle of syrup is unique, and the same could be said for the people who make it. As for Austin, he opted to return to the farm, which has been in the family for more than 40 years and create the entire syrup operation from scratch. After earning a degree in Management of Technology from Wentworth Institute of Technology in Boston and owning a custom motorcycle shop in Bridgeport, Connecticut, a severe motorcycle crash—along with the birth of his children—prompted Austin and his family to move to Vermont to enjoy a change. “As a younger man, I had zero responsibilities and a lot of freedom. I loved it. As I became a family man and had some real responsibilities when my children came along, my attitude shifted,” Austin said. “I wanted us to live basically a better quality of life.”

Lauren Santagata CHECKS THE GRADE OF THE MAPLE SYRUP PRODUCT. it can only be one of four: Golden, Amber, Dark or Very Dark.

And now a decision for change is the foundation for Austin’s work at Dorset Maple Reserve, something that’s reflected in the product itself. Throughout the course of a season, maple syrup will shift from very light and sweet early on to something much darker and richer and more vibrant in later months. It’s never the same, always taking on more complexity and flavor. This personality and unpredictability is something that Austin and his family have fallen in love with over the years. You could say they’re maple evangelists at this point. One of their most pointed efforts: Giving maple syrup a place beyond the breakfast table. 

“When we first started going direct to the consumer, I noticed that I was having a problem. I would always offer a sample and people would respond, ‘Oh, I don’t eat pancakes.’ My wife and I decided that in order to get to expand people’s ideas, we were going to have to come up with recipes and show people other ways to use it,” Austin said.


If you browse through Dorset’s website, you’ll see recipes for everything ranging from maple-roasted garlic to maple chia pudding and this incredible Cast Iron Bourbon Apple Crisp. They’ve even introduced a bourbon barrel-aged syrup and smoked and spicy syrup, which make up more than half of their total sales. Austin and Lauren see maple syrup as much more than an alternative to sugar, though. As something that’s loaded with zinc, magnesium, and riboflavin, maple syrup is a vegan-approved way to boost your immune system, much like honey. There are even some studies that link maple syrup with a reduction of heart disease and certain cancers, Austin said, and it all comes from a 6/10th-inch hole drilled into a tree. 

MORE MAPLE RECIPES

It seems that the world at large is beginning to take notice, too, as Dorset has seen steady growth since opening its doors in 2013. Call it a farm-to-table movement or just people recognizing a great product when they see one, but a change for the better seems to follow Austin and Lauren. Now, with their three children getting older, Austin said he hopes this 500-acre maple syrup farm will be something he can share with generations to come. 

“I want to build a future for my kids. This farm is one of the most beautiful pieces of property I’ve ever seen. I want my children and my grandchildren and my great-grandchildren—I want everybody—to enjoy it,” Austin said.

Until then, they’ll keep drawing inspiration from the land. As of March, Austin and Lauren were hard at work, preparing their maple syrup for their growing customer base. Each bottle represents something new and unique, a flavor growing more rich and complex with each passing week, much like the lives of the people who are producing it. And soon, after hours of hands-on production and attention, people around the world will get a taste of this positive change for themselves, one bottle at a time. 

Continue reading

The Open Road Story

THE STORY OF THE OPEN ROAD

Widely imitated, never replicated, since 1937

By Paul Underwood

Every now and again, form and function intersect to create something somehow both useful and beautiful, purpose-built yet iconic. The Coca-Cola bottle. The denim work shirt. The Porsche 911. To that list we would add: The Stetson Open Road, a style so classic and time-tested that it’s hard to believe there was ever a world where it didn’t exist.

The hat, with its western crown and shorter, town-friendly brim, dates back to 1937, a time when the open road itself was a relatively new concept. Route 66 was just over a decade old, and the top-of-the-line V-8 in the latest-model Ford cranked out a whopping 85 horsepower. Unlike today’s sturdy, hard-wearing Open Road, the 1937 iteration was more of a lightweight, western-inflected fedora.

It wasn’t until 1948 that the Open Road as we know it—with its iconic cattleman crown, narrow grosgrain ribbon, and that perfectly proportioned brim turned up just so at the edge—entered the world. It was an instant success, thanks in part to a marketing campaign that blanketed Texas and other Western states, proclaiming the hat’s versatility as a dressy option at home in town or country, in the West or back East. (“Almost as popular on the Avenue as they are on the Open Road,” as one ad later put it.)

Advertisment in The Saturday Evening Post, 1950

Advertisment, 1952

Advertisment in Time, February 1953

Before long, the Open Road was adorning some of the most famous heads in the land. Presidents in particular seemed to relish the style—Harry S. Truman was an early adopter, as was Dwight Eisenhower, both of whom wore it with a suit. 

LYNDON B. JOHNSON IN HIS SIGNATURE OPEN ROAD, 1966

Lyndon B. Johnson’s affinity for the Open Road inspired both a Stetson ad campaign (touting “The L.B.J. Look”) and a wave of knockoffs in the mid-’60s. (You can still buy your own—authentic—Open Road at the LBJ Ranch near Johnson City, Texas.) Winston Churchill wore one; so did Hank Williams. The hat played a supporting role in films like Smokey and the Bandit and From Dusk Till Dawn, while modern luminaries including Jeff Tweedy of Wilco have helped ensure the hat’s legend endures in the 21st Century.

Before long, the Open Road was adorning some of the most famous heads in the land.

In the early days, Stetson ads declared the Open Road “a hat that will proclaim your distinctive individuality to the world”—a sentiment that rings more true now than ever. You can get an Open Road in straw, hemp, or, of course, fur felt, each one adorned with our new 1865 pin. As it has been for decades, the Open Road is made by hand in Garland, Texas, meaning only a handful are in production at any one time.

Quality takes time, as we like to say, but, as the Open Road proves, quality also endures.

  • Open Road Blog_Carousel 1

  • Open Road Blog_Carousel 4

  • Open Road Blog_Carousel 2

  • Open Road Blog_Carousel 3

  • Open Road Blog_Carousel 5

OPEN ROAD IN ACTION: HIGHLIGHTS FROM OUR SPRING/SUMMER 2022 CAMPAIGN  

Continue reading

The Sky’s the Limit

The Sky’s the Limit

The story of the Stetson Stratoliner

By Paul Underwood

Photography by Steve Gonzalez

The Stetson Stratoliner was made for the man who is going places. Introduced in 1940, it took its name from the Boeing Stratoliner, a milestone in the Golden Age of Aviation. That Stratoliner, designed in 1935, was the first plane with a pressurized cabin, which enabled it to soar up to 20,000 feet—high above troublesome weather systems. This feat of engineering meant the Stratoliner could ferry 33 passengers and six crewmembers further and faster than anyone had flown before. (Among the first to have one? Howard Hughes, whose Stratoliner was dubbed “The Flying Penthouse.”)

Advertisment, 1941

Advertisment in Collier’s, September 1940

Advertisment in Esquire, April 1945

Sensing the implications, the Stetson design team got to work. The result was a lightweight fedora crafted from 2-1/2 ounce fur felt, so it packed easily and could be worn year-round. It sported a lower crown height, the better for fitting into a cramped airplane cabin, or a cab on the way to the airport. Its rakish, angled crown shape suggested a man—or a plane—on the move. The hat band came adorned with a small silver pin in the shape of a Boeing. It even arrived in a metallic silver box, suggesting the famed exterior of its namesake aircraft, with an illustrated label showing both the Stratoliner plane and the Stratoliner name. 

Stetson’s ad campaign for the Stratoliner emphasized the connection between plane and hat. “Take off in style,” one ad urged, while another declared that it “reaches new heights in style, quality and smart colorings”—while “the price is a down-to-earth $6.” Stetson introduced the hat with ads in California and Texas, where some of the first Stratoliner flights touched down. The actor Adolphe Menjou, a noted man of style both on-screen and off, was photographed carrying his Stratoliner hat while boarding a Stratoliner plane, an image soon splashed across Stetson ads far and wide, promising ease, glamour, and sophistication in equal measure. 

“The Stratoliner’s rakish, angled crown shape suggested a man—or a plane—on the move.”

After WWII, as the Jet Age dawned, the hat became the go-to for the era’s Rat Packers and Mad Men. Over time, tastes evolved, and the style was retired, only to return in 2009. Then, as now, it was crafted the old-fashioned way: By hand, in Garland, Texas. While the original Boeing Stratoliner is no longer cutting edge—indeed, the only one left now belongs to the Smithsonian—the hat it inspired remains an icon of timeless Stetson style. 

  • High Life_Carousel 1

  • High Life_Carousel 2

  • High Life_Carousel 3

  • High Life_Carousel 4

Spring 2022: Steve Gonzalez and Ontario Armstrong take the Stratoliner out for a spin in NYC.

Continue reading

Cowboy State of Mind

Cowboy State of Mind

How a new life on the range in Wyoming—and the loyal companionship of a paint horse named Toby—helped Chance Gilliland get back in the saddle after a debilitating injury.

By Samuel Martin

“Flesh and blood need flesh and blood, and you’re the one I need.” 

— Johnny Cash 

Most cowboys can relate to stories of broken bones. When you’re working with horses, cattle, and large equipment, it’s not a question of if you’ll get hurt but when.

For Chance Gilliland, the fateful moment occurred on a late spring day in 2019 at home in central Missouri. A storm was rolling in, but he just couldn’t fight the urge to ride. “I had gone to the local rodeo the night before and had the itch to be on a horse. When I started to saddle up and mount [my horse], I got thrown and broke my back. I had to be air-evaced to St. Louis, where I had to undergo an emergency spinal fusion.”



The aftermath of his accident was a stark disentanglement from horses and the way of life he knew. Gilliland’s parents, George and Julie, both raced and competed in rodeo and horse shows throughout Chance’s childhood, and he spent his youth riding horses and working with his father. No matter how far he wandered away from home later in life, horses were a constant. Until that day in 2019.

Chance spent the next year and a half in recovery, and for the first time in his life, he experienced anxiety and depression. He spent six months in a brace as he learned how to walk again, and struggled with sleeping and constant pain after returning home from the hospital. He was forbidden to lift anything, so he focused on walkinggoing a little farther each day.

After a year of grueling recovery, it was time for a change. “I grew up watching cowboy movies about the American west and always had this dream of riding my horse through that same open and vast landscape,” recalls Chance, who knew that this was the time to act on that dream. So he pulled up stakes and moved to Wyoming, taking a job as a wrangler on a ranch near the Colorado border, hoping that living and working in the Cowboy State would rekindle his love for riding.

“I’ve never been scared of horses, but after the accident, I was terrified to even be around them. I was fragile. I had lost a lot of confidence, and I didn’t feel like myself,” he says. “As the saying goes, Get back on the horse, but I’ll tell you it’s not easy after an accident like that. You can’t help but consider the possibility of it happening again, and maybe I won’t be as lucky this time.”

Chance wears the BLUE & ORANGE JAC-SHIRT, the SIGNATURE “S” MODERN CUT SHIRT, and the EL PRESIDENTE 100X PREMIER COWBOY HAT.

“I’ve never been scared of horses, but after the accident, I was terrified to even be around them.”

When Chance arrived at the ranch, he was paired with a large red horse from the wrangler herd. As he tried to throw a blanket on him, he bolted off across the ring. Chance knew this wasn’t the one. A few days later, he heard rumors about a horse named Toby—a hidden gem within the wrangler herd that hadn’t been ridden in a few seasons. 

“The next morning in the dusty air of the stampede, my friend leaned in and said, ‘Thats him,’ and I saw him: white, black, and brown. A galloping paint coming up from the meadow. We met outside the corral and he gave me a nudge.”

Besides their unique coat patterns, paint horses are known for their friendliness, intelligence, and calm demeanor, and Chance’s confidence started to return the moment he climbed onto the saddle. “I saddled him up and went on our first ride and it was just smooth sailing. I felt like myself again, he recalls.

Toby liked to be at the front of the pack and have a strong presence with the other horses, a dynamic that allowed Chance to give Toby the lead while he relearned the lessons of his youth. The two quickly became familiar with one another and spent the summer riding the 30,000 acres across the ranch.

“Toby was there for me when I needed to learn how to ride a horse again,” Chance says. “He helped me lope and trot againall basic stuff, but in a way that was comfortable and safe. A rider and a horse should work together because they’re coworkers, trying to get the job done.

Chance wears the BLACK & TAN JAC-SHIRT.

Chance wears the CLASSIC SUEDE JACKET.

For Chance, the definition of job is an ever expanding one. He recently added “actor” to his résumé following an appearance in the Yellowstone spinoff series 1883, and when not on set, he spends his time at home in Missouri or working on the ranch in Wyoming, riding the open range with Toby.

After an eventful few years, does he have any advice for the rest of us? “Everyone out there can find that horse for you if you look for it, and put the effort into building the relationship.

Continue reading

A Timeless Collection That Embodies The West

A Timeless Collection That Embodies The West

After months of design and development, we are thrilled to introduce this limited edition hat accessories collection made of fine quality stones, forged silver, and natural materials. Each design is handmade in New Mexico and has a unique story to tell.

This collection features a number of motifs including traditional Native American symbols, animals, and objects. Each timeless piece was designed in collaboration with the artists at Peyote Bird. Meet the artists.

Whitney Corum

With 14 years of experience, Whitney is currently the design coordinator at Peyote Bird and the head of technical drawing.

Following in the tradition of silversmithing from her grandfather, Whitney has always had a strong passion for jewelry design.

“I find much of my inspiration through bold color, pattern, and the intricacies of nature.”

“I find much

of my inspiration

through bold

color, pattern,

and the intricacies

of nature.”

You’ll find Whitney early in the mornings at the studio before the frenetic energy of the day ensues. She uses this quiet time to focus on her new ideas and let the flow of drawing naturally come to her. Once she begins drawing an idea, the inspiration seems to come like second nature.

Whitney’s technical drawings combined with Joe Eby’s silversmithing skills led to the creation of the three sterling silver and turquoise hat pins; the crossed arrows, lone arrow, and longhorn.

Video and images by @leroygrafe

Joe Eby

Joe was raised in the Navajo Nation and began his initial jewelry training while in Gallup, NM. Joe and his partner, Gina moved to San Antonio, TX where they enjoy a creative collaboration in silversmithing.



Each pin for this collection is cut from 20 gauge sheet metal which has just the right thickness to cut, hold its shape, and take the assorted design stamped created by Whitney. The bezel cups that the turquoise stones are set in and the pin findings are attached by soldering with an acetylene torch (the preferred method taught by Joe’s Navajo mentors). He employs a two-stage tumble finish to smooth rough edges and apply shine before setting the stones which is the final step in the process. All of these fine details make these one-of-a-kind pins heirloom quality. 

Video and images by @tylerellsion

The crossed arrows pin represents friendship. They symbolize two people whose paths have crossed and become friends. This design boasts a round turquoise stone and sterling silver.

SIZE: 0.7” width, 0.6” height 
MATERIAL: .925 sterling silver, turquoise 

The lone arrow pin represents protection and moving forward since an arrow can only go forward once released from its bow. This design includes an oval turquoise stone and copper.

SIZE: 2” length 
MATERIAL: copper, turquoise 

The longhorn pin is inspired by nature and represents the strength & hardiness of the West.

SIZE: 1” width, .06” height 
MATERIAL: .925 sterling silver, turquoise 

Anne Marie Wipf

With 16 years of experience in design and handcrafted jewelry, Anne is currently the lead designer at Peyote Bird.

Anne developed her keen eye for color and design while studying art. 

“I have always had a strong love for rocks, minerals, and gems; naturally this translated into a love for jewelry and beaded design. The materials speak to me, and then the designs follow. It is incredibly rewarding to be able to share my creativity with others while making unique and timeless designs.”

Anne’s keen eye for beaded design shines with the Sleeping Beauty Turquoise hatband. Each stone was hand-strung using the highly coveted Sleeping Beauty Turquoise stone which boasts a natural, brilliant blue hue. This stone is increasingly rare to find and is only cultivated in Arizona.


  
 

“The materials speak

to me, and then

the designs follow.”

Turquoise represents wisdom, tranquility, protection, good fortune, and hope.

This unique hatband is 20” and adjustable to fit a wide range of hat sizes.

Rick Montaño

Born in New Mexico, Rick Montaño has been making jewelry since 1986. His stamps are handmade from cold steel. While individually exclusive, his jewelry exemplifies traditional metal stamp work.



Rick designed the unique hand-stamped hatband with silver conchos. This hatband is adjustable to fit a wide range of hat sizes and exemplifies the iconic style of the Southwest.

 

MATERIAL: natural black leather, .925 sterling silver 

Stamps may vary.
Video and images by @leroygrafe

The landscape in the American West is unmatched when it comes to stunning, unique features. These timeless pieces draw inspiration from that landscape. The symbolism of each piece in our collection embodies that great spirit of the West. You will treasure the stylistic beauty and character they add to your Stetson for years to come. 

Shop the Stetson x Peyote Bird Collection here.

Continue reading