Did you know that Chautauqua County boasts the largest number of farms in New York as well as the largest grape growing region in the eastern United States? And, that more than 85 farm markets in the region annually offer locally grown produce, cheeses, meat, and maple products? The Chauatuqua in June learning festival, May 25 – June 17th, offers plenty of opportuntities to savor these “fruits” of local farmers, chefs, winemakers, and even brewmasters, and to create sumptuous meals that are sourced in western New York. Experiences range from a two hour workshop at 21 Brix learning how seasonings affect the taste of wine to a two day wine appreciation boot camp with Double A Vineyards, Walker’s Farm, and Liberty Vineyards and Winery covering the process of planting vines through bottling and labeling wine.
At the historic Athenaeum Hotel in Chautauqua Institution, Executive Chef Ross Warhol, an enthusiastic proponent of the Farm to Table movement, will provide fun and educational culinary experiences through a series of dinners and workshops during Chautauqua in June. Chef Warhol and other Culinary Institute of America trained chefs will bring students through the Farm to Table culinary process, literally from gathering ingredients at local farms to sitting down to a formal five course meal in the hotel’s parlor. The two-day experience includes a farm sourcing and foraging tour with lunch, a hands-on culinary class with dinner, and the Farm to Table Dinner event. Incidentally, Green Heron Growers will be one of the farms featured and will themselves be offering a workshop called Fun with Fungus, a hands-on workshop learning to grow Shitake mushrooms. Participants will take home their own mushroom log and enjoy a Shiitake pizza lunch.
In addition to 21 Brix and Liberty Vineyards, participating wineries include Merritt Estate and Johnson Estate. Johnson will be offering a wine pairing dinner with the theme, “What’s weather got to do with it?”. They are also bringing back Sunday Morning Vineyard Walks with the owner, Fred Johnson, as well as a pesto making workshop with Fred’s wife, Jennifer, and Vistas and Vino, a 27-mile cycling tour to be led by Bob Dahl, Wholesale Manager for Johnson Estate. Bill and Jason Merritt, the father and son owners of Merritt Estate, will offer a Wine Tasting Primer: Starting at the Top, featuring the five basic principles of wine tasting.
Not to be outdone by the wineries, Southern Tier Brewing Company and Ellicottville Brewing Company in Fredonia will offer beer tasting and brewing experiences. Be a Brewer for a Day during a very hands-on experience at Southern Tier’s brewing facilities in Lakewood. The local brewery is offering a second workshop option after the first date sold out in mid-April. EBC’s brewer, Dan Minner, will focus more on the history of brewing, different beer styles and how they pair with food during a Beer Pairing Dinner on June 7th. And, in Sunset Bay, one of Lake Erie’s best kept secrets, Cabana Sam’s Beach Grill will offer a wine pairing dinner and a “cocktails” bartending class.
While not a local food, teas tastings have also become popular in Chautauqua County. Learn the nuances and culture of tea tasting at Lana’s the Little House, an authentic cotswald cottage near Forestville, or partake in an afternoon tea party at the Cherry Creek Inn in Amish country. Throughout the summer, the Athenaeum Hotel will be offering Saturday afternoon tea tastings and luncheons on the porch.
Come out and enjoy a culinary class during Chautauqua in June. It’s a tasty way to learn cooking and entertaining skills you can use all year long. View the schedule and register for workshops online at www.tourchautauqua.com, or call the Chautauqua County Visitors Bureau at 1-866-908-4569 for more information.