Scoring a seat at a wine bar is one of the fastest (and most fun) ways to get a feel for a city. So we asked Nicole Campbell, wine-industry pro and one-half of Toronto-based event-planning duo Grape Witches, to highlight what to order at some of the country’s best spots—and where to sleep it off.


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Where to drink: Sleek, well lit and independently owned wine bars are exploding in Toronto. The best of the best is one-year-old Paris Paris in the trendy Dundas West area of Toronto. It opens at noon, so you have no excuse not to explore the expansive list of rare treasures assembled by Krysta Oben, who is the other half of Grape Witches. Grab a juicy, vibrant Gamay from Niagara star Rosewood, or opt for natural-wine royalty like Austria’s Christian Tschida or Sicily’s Frank Cornelissen. Come for the excellent wine and extremely knowledgeable staff— with their oversized T-shirts and ironic tattoos—and stay for the superb food and people-watching. You’ll definitely come back for more. (Paris Paris, 1161 Dundas Street West)


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Where to stay: Rest your head nearby at The Annex, a hidden gem of a hotel in Toronto’s artsy Annex neighbourhood near the University of Toronto. Features like online check-in, an easy code for room entrance and a self-serve closet full of delicious amenities on every floor make it feel like the super-chic hotel of the future. (The Annex, 296 Brunswick Avenue)




Where to drink: Halifax has been quietly opening some of Canada’s best restaurants for years. At the top of the pile is Little Oak Bar in the bustling waterfront district and conveniently close to Bishop’s Cellar, the city’s best wine shop. Here, sommelier Nicole Raufeisen can spend months waiting for privately ordered wines to arrive from the best wineries around the world. The result is an unparalleled wine list served by a friendly staff. Besides hard- to-find, interesting treasures, the list contains some of local wine region Gaspereau Valley’s very best. Yes, Nova Scotia makes wine, and some of it is very, very good. Choose a pét-nat (pétillant naturel is an ancient method of making sparkling wine in bottles) from local darling Benjamin Bridge. (Little Oak Bar, 1475 Lower Water Street)


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Where to stay: Make the one- hour journey to Wolfville, one of the world’s rarest and most specialized wine regions, and hole up in the stunning Blomidon Inn. Be sure to take in the unbelievable sunsets at the nearby Bay of Fundy. (Blomidon Inn, 195 Main Street, Wolfville)



Where to drink: Vancouver is full of blossoming neighbourhoods with fantastic restaurants. Do you need to go to Kissa Tanto, Ask for Luigi, Farmer’s Apprentice and Burdock & Co? Yes. But after you do, there is nowhere hotter to head to than Juice Bar, which is nestled in an airy, brick-filled, endlessly Instagrammable room. Wednesdays through Saturdays from 6 p.m. on, The Birds & The Beets café transforms into a highly curated natural-wine bar with a constantly rotating list of every- thing from cold, chuggable Loire reds to wild skin-contact whites. Affordable glasses and bottles are paired with a small but excellent menu from rotating chefs and just about every attractive person in the city. While everything on the list is worth drinking, seek out British Columbia’s very own A Sunday in August. Owner Mike Shindler makes wines he wants to drink that are beautiful, adventurous and good for the planet. The labels are hand-painted by artists native to the province, like Claire and Darby Milbrath, and the wines are produced in minuscule amounts that are quickly hoarded by the city’s top restaurants. (Juice Bar, 54 Alexander Street)


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Where to stay: Once you’re sufficiently filled with pét-nat, head to your Airbnb in walkable and friendly Mount Pleasant or lean in to mountain vibes with an ocean view at the historic and ivy-coated Sylvia Hotel in English Bay. (The Sylvia Hotel, 1154 Gilford Street)




Where to drink: From the hipster- chic Model Milk to the European- feeling treasure Bar Von Der Fels, it’s no secret that Calgary has incredible restaurants and wine bars. Under-the-radar Edmonton, however, is cultivating a thriving community of young people opening their dream restaurants. A must-try is Clementine, an elegant bar in the Oliver neighbourhood inspired by early-20th-century French art and focused on telling the stories of the products it serves. Wine plays a starring role on the bar’s list of European producers. Study the list like the treasure it is, but settle on a Lapierre Gamay from the Morgon region of France. Camille and Mathieu Lapierre are making powerful wines that are elegant and nuanced and demand a second bottle. (Clementine, 11957 Jasper Avenue)


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Where to stay: Get cozy at Union Bank Inn, a hotel housed in a former bank dating back to 1910. Beautiful exterior details and just 34 rooms make this sleeping experience all the more special. (Union Bank Inn, 10053 Jasper Avenue)

This article first appeared in the Summer 2019 issue of ELLE Canada.