The brainchild of local entrepreneurs TJ and Hadley Douglas, Urban Grape provides the best wine buying “experience” I have ever had. I say “experience” because that’s just what it is. Urban Grape is not just a place in which to pop in and grab any old bottle. Rather, it’s a place in which to sit back and really enjoy wine.
First of all, the design is stunning. An industrial loft-style space with generous windows that take in both the light and the historic South End view, Urban Grape is peppered with innovative design touches like breathtaking chandeliers made from vintage demijohns and a “floating” wine wall.
Second, at Urban Grape TJ and Hadley have employed a new organizational system called “progressive shelving,” which seeks to demystify the wine selection process. Instead of being arranged by region or variety, wines are grouped by weight. Guests are able to sample from 16 “representative” wines to determine their preferred tastes, and then may shop their specific palette.
Thus freed from what can be an intimidating selection process, amateurs and oenophiles alike may gather around the generous walnut tasting table, or settle onto the many benches or molded Eames chairs, and relax, have a conversation, enjoy a sip of wine… have an experience.
The design of the South End Urban Grape (the Douglases have another store in Chestnut Hill, MA) represents a collaborative effort between TJ and Hadley and the architects at the South End-based firm of Oudens-Ello.
The architects and owners’ vision of having a wall where the wine appeared to float in space was executed by Marc LaRochelle of Metal Tech Industries in North Falmouth, MA.
Adding to the industrial feel, the floors of Urban Grape are simple, polished concrete.
Custom fabrics were designed by TJ and Hadley’s friend, interior designer Michelle Gubitosa of Phi Design Group, whose finishing touches enhanced the cozy feel.
Central to the design of Urban Grape are the demijohn chandeliers. TJ found these individual lamps online, and the architects fashioned them into a dramatic chandelier.
In addition to over 800 bottles of wine, Urban Grape offers 400 micro-brews and 60 imported sakes.
Starting right under the “d” on the wine wall, guests are encouraged to “drink progressively” from lightest towards the more full-bodied wines at the end.