Iron Vintner Challenge: $30,000 Raised!

by Shona Milne on July 19, 2011

2011 Winner Chris Gorman with Chef Bobby Moore - Photo - Jeff Caven

Willows Lodge, a Northwest retreat in the heart of Woodinville Wine Country, announces results from the second annual Iron Vintner Challenge which took place throughout the month of June 2011. The event raised $30,000 for Little Bit Therapeutic Riding Center to support its mission to improve the bodies, minds and spirits of children and adults with disabilities through equine-assisted therapy. This is more than double the amount raised since the event started last year.

“This event had an incredible energy and it was amazing to see the generous contributions made by our Woodinville winemakers, partners and attendees,” said Shaun Tucker, General Manager, Willows Lodge.

Winning Dish by Chris Gorman of Gorman Winery - Photo Jeff Caven

The month-long culinary competition was emceed and led by Barking Frog’s Executive Chef Bobby Moore, who presented the winemakers with a different secret ingredient each week and 60 minutes in which to prepare an appetizer and entrée for a panel of celebrity judges. Chris Gorman of Gorman Winery ultimately won the competition, beating out his fellow Winemakers John Bigelow of JM Cellars, Chris Sparkman of Sparkman Cellars and Chris Upchurch of DeLille Cellars for the title of 2011 Iron Vintner.

Each competition featured a live auction led by Auctioneer David Silverman to benefit Little Bit Therapeutic Riding Center. Auction items included signed magnums from participating winemakers, one-of-a-kind culinary experiences and even the food being cooked at the competition. The Iron Vintner Challenge concluded on June 29, 2011 with a special Championship Winemaker Dinner at Barking Frog.

“Willows Lodge’s Iron Vintner Challenge is an amazing event that benefits Little Bit in so many ways.  Not only does it provide an excellent opportunity for us to expand our community of volunteers, corporate partners and build new donor relationships, it also raises awareness about the life-changing opportunities for people with disabilities that Little Bit provides each week,” said Kathy Alm, Executive Director, Little Bit Therapeutic Riding Center. “We are so thankful to Willows Lodge and Chef Moore for this community partnership and their on-going support.”

About Little Bit Therapeutic Riding Center

Founded in 1976, Little Bit Therapeutic Riding Center is a leader in the field of therapeutic horseback riding and the first nationally accredited program of its kind in the Northwest.  Little Bit’s mission is to improve the bodies, minds and spirits of children and adults with disabilities through equine-assisted therapy.  The center also strives to be an inspiration and educational resource to the therapeutic riding profession and was recognized with the Delta Society’s Model Program Award of Excellence for providing outstanding service, while bringing people and animals together.

About Willows Lodge

Willows Lodge, a Northwest style lodge located in Woodinville Wine Country just outside of Seattle, features 84 luxury guestrooms, a full-service spa and high-tech equipped meeting space.  Executive Chef Bobby Moore’s American regional cuisine at Barking Frog reflects the seasonal and organic produce found in Puget Sound, and is artfully paired with an extensive list of Washington wines.  Willows Lodge also boasts Fireside Cellars, offering a casual and sophisticated atmosphere tucked away in the lobby with an outdoor patio overlooking the expansive surrounding landscape.

Benchmark Hospitality International is a leader in the management and marketing of resorts, conference centers, hotels, and the Personal Luxury Collection℠.  The independent company, launched in 1980, is a worldwide organization operating properties in major metropolitan and resort destinations.  Benchmark’s international headquarters is located in The Woodlands, Texas, near Houston. Benchmark Hospitality is also a founding member of the International Association of Conference Centers.  The company’s northeast regional office is in New Jersey, with international offices in Tokyo, Japan, and Santiago, Chile. For the location of Benchmark’s properties and additional information, visit

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