In 2014, Fraser Valley Cider Company levelled and fenced the 12-acre property and started to graft their first cider apple trees. Then, in 2015, they constructed the cidery building and completed the first phase of planting in the orchard. 'We had a great family and friends planting day when 20 of our friends came out and got stuck into planting the trees,' said company founder Rachel Bolongaro (left).

In 2014, Fraser Valley Cider Company levelled and fenced the 12-acre property and started to graft their first cider apple trees. Then, in 2015, they constructed the cidery building and completed the first phase of planting in the orchard. 'We had a great family and friends planting day when 20 of our friends came out and got stuck into planting the trees,' said company founder Rachel Bolongaro (left).


In this weekly column, Langley Advance editor Roxanne Hooper looks at some of the business happenings in and around Langley.

If you call yourself a wine lover, and you haven’t checked out Liberty Wine Merchants in Langley yet, you’re not as avid a consumer as you may claim.

This is the wine retailer that opened in Langley for a few years ago, near London Drugs on 64th Avenue.

Well, if you’re looking for an excuse to visit, I may have just the right opportunity.

Greater Langley Chamber of Commerce is hosting its monthly Open Late for Business networking event, and it’s happening today (Thursday, May 26) from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. at Liberty.

Many of their wines are exclusive to Liberty Wine Merchants.

They have a large selection of everyday value priced product, as well as hundreds of bottles in the premium wine category.

Their store carries rare vintages, and the avid seeker can find treasures to entice both the palate and the imagination.

In addition to offering a fun new networking venue, this month’s event offers:

– Food and wine pairing stations where guests can enjoy combinations that pair different wine samples with bite sized appetizers.

– Activities which will help guests explore the store for a chance to win

– A chance to learn about the history behind Liberty Wine Merchants.

– Complimentary refreshments.

– And business card draw for a chance to win a Liberty Wine Merchants gourmet gift basket.

It’s a free event, but guests must register by calling 604-371-3770.

CAPTION: Rachel Bolongaro

Serving cider

And speaking of booze, we have a new beverage maker in town –  this one producing “handcrafted” ciders made with “freshly pressed” B.C. apples.

In addition to Langley’s vast array of wineries, a craft brewery, and a beer manufacturer, Langley’s newest beverage kid is a cider maker that held her grand opening Sunday.

The idea for Fraser Valley Cider Company started when an engineer of 20 years began casting around for a new challenge.

“While mulling over a few ideas, I took a course on cedar making (in Washington State) to improve my home cider skills, and thought… hey, wait a minute,” said Rachel Bolongaro.

“I had always dabbled in home brewing and was looking to combine my schooling in chemical engineering and pharmaceutical manufacturing with something that enabled me to indulge my love of gardening, crafts, and traditional homesteading skills. After this week long course I realized I had found out what I wanted to be when I grew up!” the U.K. entrepreneur shared with the Langley Advance.

Less than two years after buying a 12-acre farm in the 22100 block of 16th Avenue, planting an orchard of 1,800 trees (25 different varieties of English and French apples), and building a cidery, she is open for business.

“We had an amazing first day… Lovely to see old friends and especially exciting to share our cider with lots of new people,” Bolongaro reported.

“We opened our doors on the May long weekend and had a fabulous opening day with lots of visitors. Feedback on our cider was overwhelmingly positive – we couldn’t keep the shelves stocked! All through this venture I’ve been supported by my husband Sean who drives the tractor on weekends and our children Felix and Chloe who both help out in different ways.”

With the tasting room now complete, the first batches of cider bottled, and the doors open on the cidery, Bolongaro said the next big undertaking is getting 1,200 trees, which were started last year, planted in the orchard.

“Our vision for the future is to bring a slice of the British cider culture to the Lower Mainland,” she shared.

“Both Sean and I come from the U.K. although we have called Canada home for the past 18 years now (and Langley for 13 of those years). We grew up running around in beer gardens, while our parents and later ourselves would enjoy a cold glass of cider. We want to develop our cidery into a family friendly location where the kids can run off into the field and have fun while the parents relax and enjoy themselves. We are currently offering cider tastings and we have a picnic area with great views of Mount Baker where our customers can take cider from our store. In the near future we’re looking to offer charcuterie and cheese platters consisting of products produced in the Fraser Valley to compliment the cider,” she explained.

“We pride ourselves on being a truly Langley-centric project. All of our building materials, the trades we used during construction, and our business services from accounting to graphic design have been sourced from within the community. We’re employing Langley residents in our cidery and are excited to be attracting visitors to Langley through our business. Our community has such a wealth of talent – there has been no need to go elsewhere. We are part of the Circle Farm Tour and its been great to connect with our fellow businesses on this tour,” Bolongaro said.

“The support we have received from them and Tourism Langley has been so helpful. We have also been encouraged by the general messages of support received from Langley residents through our webpage. So many people we don’t know have contacted us to wish us well – we’re really looking forward to doing business here!”


CAPTION: Rachel Bolongaro

Winery brings home gold

Keeping with the beverage theme, let me tell you about a few other local business happenings.

First, let me direct your attention to one of those wineries I mentioned earlier, specifically Backyard Wines.

They recently returned from the Pacific Wine Competition [] in California, where they won three golds, including one best of, six silver, and two bronze medals. There were about 1,200 entries representing 11 countries and most wine regions in the U.S.

Kudos, and good luck again next April at the 32nd annual wine competition.


A slightly different kind of beverage

I’ve been dedicating much of the space in this week’s column to the alcoholic beverages, so now I want to get you geared up for a different kind of beverage – but one that is still not too kid friendly.

Or, maybe it is.

Next Wednesday, June 1 is Timmy’s annual Camp Day, and your daily intake of caffeine could help change thousands of young lives.

One hundred per cent of coffee sales at participating Timmy’s restaurants on camp day will be donated to the Tim Horton Children’s Foundation (THCF), and help provide more than 19,000 kids from low-income families across North America with an experience that builds essential life skills to make their futures brighter.

“Camp Day is the Tim Horton Children’s Foundation’s largest annual fundraising initiative and this year we’re celebrating its 25th anniversary,” said David Clanachan, president and COO of Tim Hortons Canada and chair of the foundation.

“Through the generous support of our guests and restaurant owners, hundreds of thousands of kids from communities across North America have been given the experience of a lifetime and the opportunity to develop skills that will help them become more responsible, caring and motivated individuals,” he said.

Last year alone, $12.4 million was raised in Canada and the United States, allowing close to 18,000 kids from low-income families to spend a life-changing session at one of the seven THCF camps.

In the past 25 years, more than $150 million has been raised, providing more than 237,000 kids with a camp experience at absolutely no cost to them or their families.

With the funds raised on Camp Day, Tim Hortons restaurant owners sponsor kids directly from their local communities to attend camp.

They work closely with local youth organizations and schools to identify kids who would benefit most from the experience.

“We help kids unlock their hidden strengths, and develop critical life skills that will help them to find their own success and thrive as contributing members of their communities,” said Dave Newnham, president and executive director of THCF.

“Our camps aren’t just a fun visit away from home, these intentional experiences can be the catalyst to change their outlook on life and gain greater confidence about their future,” Newnham said.

He cited that young people who grow up in low-income homes are less likely to graduate from high school or pursue post-secondary education and are at a higher risk of living in poverty and relying on social assistance as adults.

Foundation programs are designed to provide children and youth with opportunities to develop skills and values that help set them on a different path in life.

“My journey with the Tim Horton Children’s Foundation camp began when I was nine and continued for the next five summers as part of the youth leadership program,” shared Aziza Abdul Qader, a camp alumni.

“When I first arrived, I was nervous and had low self-esteem. At camp, I was encouraged to push forward, challenge myself and try new things. By the time I was 16 and completed my program, I had discovered my voice and felt like I could do anything, like pursue a career in physiotherapy.”

In addition to summer programs, camps operate programming throughout the year, welcoming schools and organizations that serve low-income communities to participate in free-of-cost camp experiences.

At camp, kids participate in a wide range of purposeful programs and activities designed to build self-confidence, self-esteem and leadership skills.

THCF also offers a unique youth leadership program, which takes place over five summers and focuses on building lifelong leadership skills, teamwork and independence.

Graduates of the leadership program are eligible for financial support through the Carolee House Bursary Program to attend post-secondary education. Since 2002, more than $6 million in bursaries have been distributed to students pursuing university, college or a trade certificate program.

There are other ways to help, if you don’t drink coffee.

This year, customers who want to help to raise awareness about Camp Day can also purchase a camp bracelet at participating restaurants.

Camp Day bracelets, available in four colours (orange, green, blue and purple), are $2 plus tax while supplies last.

Guests are invited to wear the bracelets in support of the Tim Horton Children’s Foundation. Guests can also make a donation any time at

Every Camp Day donation counts, Newnham said.


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