Luxurious spirited culinary weekend benefits Centaur Stride Therapeutic Riding Facility in Chautauqua County

This weekend the Chautauqua Bon Vivant celebrates Fall with a lavish weekend of tastings, seminars and luncheons beginning on September 24th. Tickets are presale only and proceeds from the luxurious three-day event will benefit the Centaur Stride Therapeutic Riding Facility.

Claudia Monroe, physical therapist and co-founder of Centaur Stride, says the improvement in a participant’s quality of life is awe-inspiring. “There’s a bond that every rider has with the horse. It’s so different than in a clinic. The horse is real, alive, interactive, non-judgmental, aims to please and is a great tool to facilitate great outcomes, across all domains- physical, social, emotional and cognitive. That’s something everyone should want to make sure we can sustain. ”

Karlyn Monroe, the festival’s founder and organizer states, “This county has so much to offer, and can collaborate to help sustain not only the riding center, but area businesses and the wine industry. It makes sense to generate buzz and celebrate its resources. It takes a few years to build this kind of event, and we’re confident that each year will add new elements. This year is going to be fabulous! We have some expert people on board, and are thrilled to expose them to the bounty of Chautauqua. This event also allows people to experience the culinary and premium spirits cultures as well. Cocktails have become gourmet libations using fresh and premium ingredients, and the combinations of food and drink has become an art that even the most distinguished chefs and mixologists aspire to perfect. This festival is a taste of the newest trends in the world of food and drink”. Remy Cointreau USA is a lead sponsor in the event- donating premium brands such as Remy Martin Cognac, The Macallan Scotch, Cointreau Orange Liqueur and Mount Gay Rum.

An impressive roster of talented culinary, wine and spirit professionals will entertain and enlighten guests at the Chautauqua Suites Hotel & Expo Center and other surrounding venues. This year, the Chautauqua Bon Vivant features Executive Chef Jonathan Haloua—of La Fleur, the first and only restaurant in Western New York to receive the prestigious AAA Four Diamond Award two years in a row; Hush Professional Mixologists, Bek Allen and Erin Williams, Heidi Merino and the Liquid Chef Team—the expert mixologists are noted for creating cocktails internationally- including cruise ship lines and Mayor Bloomberg’s own private events; and Master of Wine, Jennifer Simonetti-Bryan—one of only five women in the United States to obtain that degree, the most rigorous and highest wine title in the world.

The three-day festival will begin with ‘Vintage Cocktails and Artisan Discoveries’ at The Art Loft where guests will be enlightened by local artist, Al Newman, as he tells about his travel and studies with great artists. Johnson Estate Wine, The Macallan Scotch, Remy Martin Sidecar Cocktails and Hor d’oeuvres will delight the palate while the eyes and mind indulge in the appreciation of artistic expression. Local artist, Dan Swackhammer has donated one of his signature framed and matted photographs of the Chautauqua Institute Bell Tower for auction. Warren and Bonnie Beyer, of the Art Loft, will also graciously donate 10% of the evening sales to Centaur Stride. Guests can wander through five beautifully restored spaces within an early 1900’s lumber mill and discover the talents of over 100 local and national artists. Rustic beams, forty foot high rafters and country charm mix with contemporary sophistication to welcome you at every turn.

Saturday afternoon boasts a lavish lunch featuring wines paired exquisitely by Jennifer Simonetti-Bryan, Master of Wine. Guests will enjoy a complete four-course lunch as Jennifer teaches you how to focus your palate, takes you through pairing “dos & don’ts”, and how to discern when to follow the “rules of thumb” to allow your senses to take you to the ultimate gratification. This is truly a unique educational experience, facilitating the greatest dining pleasure. Olive’s is a four season destination, AAA 3 Diamond Rated Dining.

“Wines of the Region” is an educational seminar featuring Jennifer Simonetti-Bryan, Master of Wine and includes seven delectable New York wines, including wines from our very own Lake Erie Wine Trail. This seminar highlights the area’s grape and wine making history, the pursuit of quality, the unique characteristics given their distinct terroir, how far local wines have come and what to look forward to in the future. New York State is the third largest wine producing state in the US. Novices will learn to distinguish fine wines and connoisseurs will gain insight for new prodigies. This educational seminar is a must for any wine making enthusiast, vintner, consumer, as well as the discerning collector. Featured wines include:

 Riesling, Dr. Konstantin Frank Wine Cellars, Finger Lakes- NY
 2009 Traminette, Johnson Estate Winery, Chautauqua- NY
 Pinot Noir, Red Tail Ridge Winery, Finger Lakes- NY
 Seyval Blanc, Johnson Estate Winery, Chautauqua- NY
 Gewurztraminer, Hermann T. Wiemer Vineyard, Finger Lakes- NY
 Proprietors Reserve, Mazza Chautauqua Cellars, Chautauqua- NY
 2006 Ice Wine of Vidal Blanc, Mazza Chautauqua Cellars, Chautauqua- NY

Saturday evening is the Grand Reception and Tasting Event at the Chautauqua Suites Hotel & Expo Center. The monumental event takes place in the venue’s 20,000 square foot banquet hall. Guests will enjoy an array of enticing signature samplings at this festive walk-around tasting including delectable cuisine, fine wines and innovative cocktails created from the finest premium spirits-featuring the region’s best restaurants and wineries. Music will be featured by the debut of an entrepreneurial band, “Wild Card”, a young group of outstanding musicians. Each guest will also receive a complimentary gift bag filled with an assortment of useful and exciting items provided by the sponsors.

To further support Centaur Stride, guests will have the opportunity to bid on items in the silent auction and take chances on the various prizes offered during the Grand Reception and Tasting Event. One very special item is a painting created and donated by two of the facilities riders, Derek and Sophia, titled “Freedom Run”. ( made possible via the iExpress Art Program from The Resource Center)

On Sunday, the Grand Finale boasts one more day of culinary and cocktail delights. A short journey from the Suites to the Red Brick Marketplace, guests will enjoy a savory brunch prepared by Chef Jonathan Haloua, paired with Champagne, Champagne cocktails and Champagne punches, created by the Master Mixologists of Hush Cocktails. Discover and enjoy the unique atmosphere of La Fleur, set in a historic Victorian home adorned with French countryside décor and surrounded by lavish gardens. La Fleur has been awarded the prestigious AAA Four Diamond Award for the second consecutive year and joins a select group of only 48 AAA Four Diamond winners in New York State. La Fleur utilizes the best seasonal ingredients sourced through a variety of local farms and suppliers or grown in their own garden!

Then see how this all started. Tour Centaur Stride Therapeutic Riding Facility and see riders in action. Several riders have volunteered to ride during this tour, so that people can see first-hand just how beneficial and fulfilling this is.

Individual tickets to the event are available as well as all-access passes, which are priced from $25-220, advance purchases only. Tickets can be purchased online at, La Fleur, the Art Loft, Chautauqua Suites, Centaur Stride, or Johnson Estate Winery. Special hotel rates at the Chautauqua Suites Hotel are also available upon request for guests attending the Bon Vivant.

The Bon Vivant’s beneficiary, Centaur Stride, is a 501 (C) 3 not-for-profit therapeutic and recreational horseback riding facility. Located in rural Westfield, NY, in Chautauqua County, Centaur Stride provides access to the benefits of horseback riding to a broad spectrum of individuals with disabilities. Programs are designed to improve many facets of the lives of riders, their families and the individuals working with them. Today, more than 150 individuals benefit annually.

Full details about the riding programs and the weekend events can be found on the website