Odd Thoughts: From truly humble beginnings

Many of the “regulars” who will be tasting local and exotic wines when Langley Central Rotary Club takes over Willowbrook Shopping Centre on Nov. 5, weren’t even born when it started.

Indeed, some of the wine enthusiasts who will line up outside the door next week Saturday weren’t even imagined yet when we opened the first Fraser Valley Wine-Tasting Festival to a handful of patrons who were certainly more eager than they let on.

I do not believe anyone imagined what that modest event would become over the coming decades. The first few years of the wine-tasting festival that has become one of Langley’s premier annual events involved more sweat and tears than wine.

The ABC rooms at the Langley Civic Centre (now George Preston Recreation Centre) engulfed those first wine-tasters occasionally noticed among the volunteers and wine merchants who were hopefully staffing their stark tables. A Lord of the Rings fan might have noted a resemblance to the Mines of Moria. If I recall, we did have a table with snacks off in one corner – chips, cheeses, and perhaps a few simple hors d’oeuvres.

If it had only been about the wine, it certainly would have passed relatively unnoticed, a pauper’s death. But there was a greater purpose that drove those who were sure they saw a fount of charity in the festival, if only they could figure how to dig it out.

It took fancy talking – and creative accounting of bodies and bottles – to convince the wine merchants to have a crack at a second year… and then a third.

Then Willowbrook Shopping Centre invited the festival into the majesty of the mall concourse… and the rest, as they say, is history.

Soon the wine festival was generating the lion’s share of Langley Central Rotary’s funding for charitable work. We not only felt confident to pledge multi-year commitments of tens of thousands of dollars to local projects, but our pledges were being met in half the time or less.

And it grows with more tasters, more wine merchants, and more exotic wines – and the food! Let’s just say we’ve got well past that table of chips and cheeses!

Any Langley Central Rotarian will happily steer you towards a ticket, or get one directly from the festival website at fvwf.ca. This year, the funding is aimed at Langley-area children who need a helping hand.


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