Ruta Smith

1081 Morrison Drive. Downtown

(843) 727-1145

Sarah O’Kelley had a big year as the general manager of Edmund’s Oast Exchange, completely transforming the retail store into a daytime cafe with nightly events geared towards wine enthusiasts.

“Last spring, we started talking about adding more seating and making it more of an extension of the restaurant,” said O’Kelley. “Once you add the element of food, it makes it all the more enjoyable to have a few drinks.”

It wasn’t just the food that brought people into The Exchange. Those looking to enhance their wine knowledge signed up for O’Kelley’s “Somm School” classes, so popular that she added a “Somm School 2.0” series focusing on specific wine regions.

Even when the coronavirus pandemic rocked the food and beverage industry, O’Kelley was able to adapt. “We’ve managed to keep some of our programming going during this crazy time,” she said. “On Thursdays, we’ve done some blind tastings. You come in, buy the wines and then I’ve recorded myself walking people through a blind tasting on YouTube Live. We’ve reached different people during this time which has been one silver lining of this.”

According to O’Kelley, her Charleston colleagues help her push the boundaries everyday. “It’s not just me, there’s a whole wine community in this town and I think we all keep each other going.” —Parker Milner

Femi Oyediran, Graft Wine Shop