Wine connoisseurs unite at Willowbrook mall

The popular Fraser Valley Wine Festival, benefiting Langley youth, sold out Saturday.

This year's 27th annual Fraser Valley Wine Festival, organized by the Rotary Club of Langley Central, was another huge success.

Oenophile: described in the Merriam-Webster dictionary as “a lover or connoisseur of wine.”

The Willowbrook Shopping Centre was packed with oenophiles last Saturday.

And whether guests were lovers of wine, out to support a great cause (Langley’s youth), or both, the Fraser Valley Wine Festival completely sold out.

Since 1989, the Rotary Club of Langley Central has hosted this fundraiser, which since its inception has raised more than $1 million for local charities and projects.

The 27th annual event drew more than 1,000 people and roughly 30 merchants, noted Rotary Club of Langley Central president Steve Carter.

When it comes to fundraising totals, Carter believes this year’s festival was on par with past ones, which have typically raised between $70,000 and $75,000 each event, with net proceeds going towards helping youth and children at risk in Langley.

“Specific projects, we don’t have, yet,” Carter said. “We’re looking at youth homelessness and we’re waiting for a business report from one of the local groups.”

The festival is drawing a younger audience, Carter said: “It’s well received. It’s becoming more accepted by the Millennials. The crowds are getting younger, which is encouraging, too.”

Additionally, “it’s great value,” Carter noted.

“Where else do you get to sample foods from eight or nine different restaurants and try upwards of 300 to 400 different types of wines for $50?”

This year, a helicopter tour from SKY Helicopters and a dinner for four at Moxies was given away.

“And that was just as a door prize,” Carter said.

Close to 30 corporate sponsors came on board this year.

“BDO donates $15,000 every year and this is the eighth year they’ve done it,” Carter remarked.

The Langley Central Rotarians form a committee to plan the festival, and several volunteers from the club “organize it the night of,” Carter said.

“Everybody’s passionate in our club when it comes to the community at large, whether it’s locally or internationally,” he added. “And it’s our biggest fundraiser of the year.”