The Urban Grape is a modern boutique wine store. Featuring over 800 wines that are uniquely organized by weight, rather than varietal or region, the Urban Grape features their method of Progressive Shelving, allowing the customer to focus on the body of the wine. Owned by husband-and-wife entrepreneurs and South End residents TJ and Hadley Douglas, the Urban Grape emphasizes unparalleled, concierge-style customer service coupled with a “no wine snobs” mentality.
The Urban Grape features an EnoRound Elite Tasting Machine, allowing guests to taste half-ounce samples of 16 wines that range in body. This allows them to work with The Urban Grape’s staff to build a unique customer profile based on their preferences within the Progressive Shelving system. Once a personalized palate profile is determined, the guest can then shop within the corresponding section of the store or can utilize the staff’s expertise to experiment with something new. The Urban Grape works with over 50 distributors to feature competitively priced, favorite and unique small-production wines, as well as biodynamic, organic and kosher bottles.
In addition to wine, the Urban Grape features a wide selection of beer, sake and spirits. The beer and sake sections feature nearly 400 beers and 60 sakes. Beer manager Ben Bouton stocks the shelves with a variety of local and regional nano and micro-brew beers, while ensuring that refrigerated cases always carry an array of old school favorites. The sake selection at the Urban Grape is one of the largest in Boston. The tasting machine at The Urban Grape also always features sake for guests to savor. The spirits section features a wide variety of artisan, small-batch liquors, with particular depth in whiskeys and tequilas.
The The Urban Grape boasts clean lines, chic design elements, and The Urban Grape’s signature wine wall. With custom wood and metal shelving built by the South Boston-based company Bulldog Woodworking Company, the wine wall includes a large selection of half-bottle offerings, sparkling, white, rosé and red wine.
Central to the design are two locally manufactured chandeliers made of clear demijohns in varying sizes that will glow within the store. In early times, demijohns were used to ferment wine. In addition, a grand-scale butcher-block tasting table anchors the main area and emphasizes The Urban Grape’s mission of creating community through the experience of wine.
The muted concrete floors and white walls are the ideal backdrop for the sole color palate in the store: over 850 bottles of beer, wine, sake and spirits. Window seats provide a comfortable place for guests to relax, and a reading area with classic books for oenophiles, beer and cocktail lovers offers an additional place to learn.
As a child growing up in Vermont, TJ Douglas would often add one very important accessory to his t-‐shirts before running out the door to school – a clip-‐on tie. While other kids were working to save money for a spring break trip, TJ was saving every dollar for a dream that was just beginning to form.
Upon his arrival in Boston, TJ’s journey began to take shape as he combined his love of restaurant management with a newfound passion for wine. After helping to open the wine bar Rustic Kitchen in Faneuil Hall, TJ worked his way up at Armani Café until he became General Manager. Along the way, no wine list was safe from TJ’s scrutiny and fine-‐tuning.
Trips to Italy, France, South Africa, Napa and Sonoma ignited TJ’s passion for wine. Slowly, his dreams turned from owning a restaurant to owning a wine store, where he could share his love for wine with other people. After four years as a wine salesman for Ruby Wines, the time was right for TJ to realize his dreams. The Urban Grape is the culmination of this journey.
Says TJ, “I love wine. Not just the taste, but the experience. The Urban Grape is the culmination of half my life’s work. Each of my experiences with wine (and the people who love wine) has led me to this moment. I believe I have opened a store that can create community, memories and joy through the experience of wine.”
Hadley Douglas comes to the wine business by way of marriage. Although always a lover of wine, she nonetheless never had opening a wine store on her list of things to try before dying. That said, she has always been up for a good challenge.
Hadley’s background is in marketing, events and philanthropic management. She helped to start The Sports Philanthropy Project to provide technical assistance to the charities of professional sports teams. After receiving a development grant she also started MVPhilanthropy, an organization dedicated to helping athletes market themselves through the work of their charitable foundations. She was also a consultant for SFX Sports, and developed and ran the charitable division of CMT Entertainment, where she was also Executive Vice President. Until the birth of her second child, Hadley was the Director of Marketing and Charitable Giving for a local organic produce company.
TJ and Hadley live in the South End of Boston with their two young children.