Special to the Langley Advance Times
Wine enthusiasts who helped put more than a million dollars into Langley’s charity coffers have their festival back.
After a year’s hiatus, the Fraser Valley Wine Tasting Festival is returning to Willowbrook Shopping Centre on Nov. 2, from 7 to 9:30 p.m.
The wine festival, presented by the Rotary Club of Langley Central annually since 1989, provides a unique opportunity to taste new and otherwise hard-to-find wines, as well as dozens of old favourites from local wineries and from around the world.
One of the new participants in this year’s festival is Indigenous World Winery, offering wines from vineyards in the Okanagan and Similkameen Valleys. Proprietors Robert Louie, former chief of the Westbank First Nation, and his wife Bernice, who add a touch of their heritage as Okanagan Syilx descendants to their wines.
Local wineries include the international award-winning Domaine de Chaberton, Langley’s longest standing winery and one of the first wineries to get on board with the Rotary festival decades ago.
Langley’s newest winery, Cavello Winery, will be there, as will Langley’s Fraser Valley Cider Company.
“We are excited about the many wines and other products being offered this year,” said Wayne Crossen, who has been heading the effort to line up wineries for this year’s event. “It should make for an interesting and exciting taste experience for our many guests.”
There’s always more than wine to titillate the taste buds of festival goers, with a number of local restaurants and food providers showing off their goods to eager tasters.
And there’s more to it than tasting and socializing at one of Langley’s preeminent social evenings.
The Fraser Valley Wine Tasting Festival has funnelled more than a million dollars through the organizing Rotary club into Langley community efforts, including Big Brothers and Big Sisters, Thanksgiving dinners for local homeless, Christmas hampers, Salvation Army, breakfast and lunch programs for Langley schools, awards and scholarships for outstanding students, Langley Hospice, Langley Lodge… the list could fill this page.
This year’s chief beneficiary will again be Langley Memorial Hospital, this time to help build a new pediatric isolation unit.
Past Langley Central Rotary president Paul Coltura is helping Stew McIvor line up sponsors who provide a large part of the charitable proceeds to the wine festival. He also represents BDO Canada, the festival’s top sponsor for the past decade, and has been a tireless worker in the hospital’s volunteer wing.
“Having been treasure and a director of LMH Foundation for nine years,” he said, “I am happy and proud that our club has committed $100,000 to the ER Pediatric Isolation Unit.”
“We are blessed to have a core of sponsors who are glad to support Rotary every year,” added McIvor. “As we develop our base of sponsor,s we find more and more realize that it’s not just good for the soul to give back to the community, but also good for business to be associated with the good works that Rotary does.”
“I think the Wine Festival provides a great opportunity for Rotary, local businesses, local restaurants, and others to work together for the good of the community,” said John Peters, who has handled the organizing committee’s finances for years and now has stepped up as a co-chair. “Over the years, the festival has provided help to many worthy local organizations to help make Langley a better place to live, and we can all be proud of that.”
John Morgan, who continues as co-chair this year after working alongside David Taft in that capacity for most of the festival’s existence, summed up: “The Fraser Valley Wine Festival is really a great social night for friends to meet, and is also a great fund raiser for the local community while enjoying yummy food and delicious wines from all over the world.”
“The Rotary volunteers have spent many hours preparing for the event, from contacting the help from local restaurants, wine merchants, businesses, and most of all, to the people of the community who purchase the tickets,” Morgan noted. “Without their help this event would not even exist.”
“The Rotary Club of Langley Central is excited that the Fraser Valley Wine Festival will be back again this November after an absence last year due to renovations at Willowbrook Shopping Centre,” added club president Rodney Blackwell. “As well as a great social event which is expected to sell out as in previous years, the festival is also one of the most important of fund-raising events by Rotary to support local charitable activities.”
Tickets, at $55 covering all wine tasting and restaurant fare at the festival, have already been selling briskly online at www.fvwf.ca. The festival has sold out in previous years.