Over the weekend, a group of local writers left Vancouver for a day down ‘south’, exploring BC’s agricultural, heritage-rich, and scenic Fraser Valley belt.
Our day out included a fruit winery, pumpkin patch, turkey farm, nursery, and historic site. As we all have various pursuits when touring a new destination, these stops provided something of interest for everyone.
It’s harvest time at our first stop, The Fort Wine Company. During a brief cranberry bog tour, we learned how the irrigation system is set for flooding the bog, which in turn causes the fruit to float to the surface, to be collected by a boom (a pump that will suck them in), guiding the ripe red berries to a washing facility.
It takes a full day of labour to process each field. Water is conserved by a diversion process to the next field, avoiding the need to flush water repeatedly. Cranberry bush roots can thrive for hundreds of years.
Cranberry wine is Fort Wine’s flagship product. Opened in 2001, this popular winery receives visits from all over Western Canada and (due to border proximity) the US. 11 different products are produced, and blueberry wine is a huge seller here.
The oxidant-rich cranberry is one of Langley’s oldest traditional fruits. Due to the fruit’s acidity, they can easily be shipped anywhere in the world. As well, 95% of all cranberries are used to make juice, the other five percent going into sauces, fruit sales, dried for baking, and wine making.
Wines are produced frequently and year-round in small batches, unlike traditional wineries. We sampled a couple of the wines in the gift shop/tasting room, finding a favorite in the Isle Queen of Blackberries, a delightful fortified wine perfect for sipping by the fireplace with book in hand.
The Fort Wine Co. is located at 26151 84th Avenue in Langley.
Aldor Acres is the quintessential family spot, with a pumpkin patch (their annual Christmas tree farm will soon return), petting zoo, and dairy farm.
Al and Dorothy Anderson form the Aldor name. Along with 19 grandchildren involved in daily operations, this is truly a family business.
We took a hayride along the pumpkin patches, admiring the landscape and later sneaking a peek at the oldest home in Langley, 1887’s Murdoch McIvor House.
The farm also offers a variety of tours, suitable for families, seniors, groups, and schools.
The sustainably-minded farm was hopping with visitors of all ages, enjoying the animals, live pumpkin carving, and tasty homemade treats. Looking forward to seeing the property decorated for the holidays!
Find Aldor Acres at 8301 252nd Street in Langley.
We were introduced to family-run JD Turkey Farms by Jason Froese, 2nd generation owner. Parents Jack and Debbie Froese were both raised on Fraser Valley farms, purchasing the site of their current farm in 1979. Jason’s Dad is currently serving his first term as township mayor, with the aim of keeping the Township of Langley a thriving business and residential destination.
Thanksgiving is JD’s second busiest season behind Christmas. Their grain-fed turkeys remain inside in barns, as it’s hard to prevent wildlife attacks. While this makes them officially ‘non-organic’ certified poultry, the animals receive the best feed and attention possible.
All of JD Farms’ products are cooked and processed on site, from their famous sausages and frozen lasagna to turkey legs and trimmings, right down to the stuffing and gravy. Their shop is a one-stop smorgasbord of local products, from pickled beets to herbs and spices.
We were also served a hot lunch at their bistro, where our group enjoyed turkey vegetable soup, turkey and cranberry sandwiches, local cheeses, and homemade pies à la mode.
Darvonda Nurseries began in the early 1980’s and has expanded to a large-scale business. Costco is their big client, and each year, Darvonda’s container gardens and poinsettia plants make their way across the country to provide greenery for all seasons.
We visited their immense storage facility, located on 216th Street. Their five growing facilities are located in Langley, Maple Ridge, and Mudare, Alberta. The poinsettia growing rooms are impressive. These warm rooms ensure that the plants receive the correct amount of heat – and light – in order to meet shipping deadlines. A lot of hand labour is involved; breeders look for poinsettia varieties that don’t break or aren’t too tall.
10 weeks of diminished light results in the optimal red colour that makes this South American native plant a popular Christmas tradition. By the time the holiday season rolls around, this well-visited nursery is 110% sold out of product.
In the next building over, a seasonal Milner Village indoor winter market is underway every Saturday from 10 am to 3 pm through December 14. This is a great spot to stock up on local goodies and crafts for both the home and for gifting.
Milner Village Garden Centre will also host a special seasonal event on Saturday, November 16. The Winter Reveal Party will make for a fun girls’ night out with wine and cheese, music, fashion, and shopping. Check out local designers as well as getting a sneak peek into the Christmas décor shop.
Fort Langley National Historic Site is a must-see attraction on any Langley itinerary. Close enough to the village of Fort Langley, this land is known as the birthplace of BC. Through buildings, interpretive guides, and signage, explore the Colony of British Columbia’s earliest steps.
“Fort Langley is the exact location where, a century and a half ago, a huge fur trade organization called the Hudson’s Bay Company established a small post to trade with the First Nations of the West Coast. Furs were shipped to Europe via Cape Horn, produce was traded to the Russians in Alaska, local cranberries found their way to California, and Fraser River salmon was enjoyed as far away as Hawaii! In 1858, rumours of gold on the Fraser River caused a massive influx of Americans to the area. Fearing annexation by the United States, British Columbia was proclaimed a Crown Colony on this site by James Douglas on November 19, 1858.”
There’s also a haunted tale or two to tell: we arrived to learn of footsteps originating from the Big House’s second floor. Our guide has seen things that are unexplainable, and many visitors have commented on how they too were visited by a small Native boy, wearing the attire of that era, appearing as though he worked on staff.
Many other buildings at Fort Langley are reputedly haunted. The fully sold-out nightly Grave Tales walking tour is an option to keep in mind for next year. Even the Full Barrel Café had a specially-created Halloween menu on offer.
The Fort is open seven days a week, year-round, from 10 am to 5 pm, and is located at 23433 Mavis Avenue in Langley. Our tour was compliments of Tourism Langley for the purpose of experiencing the Fraser Valley via the organization’s new #LangleyFresh touring program.
If you’re out with a smart phone in the area, share your photos with the #LangleyFresh hashtag and check out Tourism Langley on Instagram.