More than $80,000 was raised for local charities by the Langley Central Rotary Club’s Wine Fest last year. (Langley Advance files)

More than $80,000 was raised for local charities by the Langley Central Rotary Club’s Wine Fest last year. (Langley Advance files)

Popular Langley Wine Fest takes break for mall renovations

Langley Central Rotary Club will hold its 29th annual fundraising wine-tasting event next year.

The 29th annual Fraser Valley Wine Tasting Festival won’t take place until 2019.

The Langley Central Rotary Club organizers of the event spent the summer considering their options after being informed that renovations at Willowbrook Shopping Centre will make it impossible to hold this year’s event in the location that has hosted the annual November wine-tasting festival for nearly all of its 28-year run.

“Willowbrook has been so good to us, and has been such a perfect venue,” said event co-chair John Morgan. “It’s just not possible to find as good a place and reorganize to get anything like the success that we’ve had in the past.”

The annual wine festival has grown to be one of Langley’s pre-eminent annual social events after moving to Willowbrook Shopping Centre’s main concourse in the mid-1990s, and has raised more than a million dollars for local charities since then.

“The good reputation that the festival has built over the years has been important to its success,” noted co-chair David Taft, adding, “Watering it down by choosing a smaller venue or one with the wrong atmosphere wouldn’t be fair to the public who have supported us, or to the merchants who have provided us with so many great wines for our patrons to sample, or to our sponsors who have given us tens of thousands of dollars to pass along to local charities each year.”

Last year’s event put $80,000 into Langley Central Rotary’s charity coffers, including a significant commitment to Langley Memorial Hospital.

Past festival funding has helped a multitude of local charities, including large commitments to Ishtar Transition House for women escaping abusive relationships, Langley Hospice, initiatives to fight homelessness, and a number of youth-oriented projects.

“We all agonized over this decision,” said Langley Central Rotary president Paul Coltura, who also is a partner at BDO Canada LLP, the festival’s top sponsor in recent years.

He thanked all of the festival’s sponsors for their support, and offered a reminder that the festival committee will be contacting them to renew their relationship when organization for the 29th annual Fraser Valley Wine Tasting Festival in November 2019 gets underway early next year.