Grape Witches throw a nat­u­ral wine party

Brand new Hy­dro­s­tone bar The Ostrich Club hosts Smug­gler’s Cove, a night of nat­u­ral wine with Toronto duo, the Grape Witches.


Smug­gler’s Cove The Ostrich Club 5529 Young Street July 22, 8pm-2am, $30 Tick­ets at grape­

“A cool house party where there hap­pens to be re­ally good wine.” We would ex­pect noth­ing less from Grape Witches swoop­ing into Hal­i­fax to pour some mag­i­cal wines for those at­tend­ing a party at the Hy­dro­s­tone Mar­ket’s brand new restau­rant, The Ostrich Club.

To say the least, this Smug­gler’s Cove party will be a wine event that di­verges from the norm. In a phone in­ter­view, Grape Witch Ni­cole Camp­bell em­pha­sized things like cre­at­ing “an in­clu­sive, safe space for peo­ple who don’t nor­mally go to wine events,” and “get­ting to open some of the most thrilling wines, and of­fer­ing them for as cheap as we can af­ford.” Her will­ing­ness to name the two bar­ri­ers for many peo­ple to the wine scene—pre­ten­tion and cost—is re­fresh­ing.

Born and bred in Toronto, Camp­bell met Fin­land-born, On­tario-bred Krysta Oben 10 years ago (“What is time?” she pauses to muse in the midst of her story) in On­tario’s wine in­dus­try. Both Camp­bell—a wine buyer with Canadian wine dis­trib­u­tor Lif­ford—and Oben—som­me­lier at Toronto wine bar Paris Paris—have for­mal wine train­ing.

“But there was a dis­con­nect be­tween what we loved and what ex­cited us most [about wine], and the kinds of events we were go­ing to,” says Camp­bell.

From that dis­con­nect emerged the Grape Witches, cham­pi­oning low-in­ter­ven­tion and or­ganic wine­mak­ers, “ex­plain­ing wine over loud disco mu­sic” at par­ties and events across the coun­try.

The Grape Witches make a habit of part­ner­ing with other women in wine—women like Ni­cole Raufeisen, Hal­i­fax som­me­lier and gen­eral man­ager of The Ostrich Club and Lit­tle Oak, res­tau­rants that share own­ers with Agri­cola Street Brasserie.

“We con­nected over a mu­tual love of low­in­ter­ven­tion wines and fun party times,” said Raufeisen of the Grape Witches. “As th­ese wines are still rel­a­tively new to Hal­i­fax, we thought it would be a great op­por­tu­nity to pour some great juice in a fun, new con­text.”

That new con­text is the much-an­tic­i­pated The Ostrich Club, which, ac­cord­ing to owner Rachel Knox, will be “a place to wan­der in for lunch, brunch and at the end of your day,” in keep­ing with the Hy­dro­s­tone’s neigh­bour­hood feel. The fresh, sea­sonal menu and fo­cused bev­er­age list (with lots of low-in­ter­ven­tion wines, we are promised) strives for qual­ity and vari­ance.

Even for those who can’t make it to The Ostrich Club on Sun­day, the Grape Witches of­fer two sim­ple spells that any­one can cast.

“A nice way to in­voke sum­mer magic is to put all red wine in the fridge,” sug­gests Camp­bell, “and no­tice the magic of lev­ity and fresh­ness.”

Gasp, right? Not so fast. Spell num­ber two? “Don’t take your wine too se­ri­ously!” a


Ni­cole Camp­bell and Krysta Oben ex­plain “wine over loud disco mu­sic.

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