When Hadley and TJ Douglas embarked on their first family trip to Italy years ago, they never could have predicted that it would lead them to become owners of one of America’s largest Black-owned wine retailers. The couple’s journey from enjoying wine with their toddler to opening the Urban Grape in Boston, and now expanding to Washington D.C., is an inspiring tale of passion, innovation, and the fight for representation in the wine industry.
TJ Douglas, with a background in hospitality, discovered his love for wine while working as the bar manager at a restaurant in Boston. Determined to learn about the products he was selling, he attended tastings and classes, honing his knowledge and expertise. It was during this time that TJ developed the Urban Grape’s progressive scale system, which categorizes wines by body rather than varietal or region. This unique approach allows customers to navigate wine shopping with confidence, as they can easily find wines that match their preferences.
The Urban Grape’s classification system not only simplifies the wine-buying experience but also helps customers explore new wines. Rather than grouping all merlots together, for instance, the Urban Grape showcases the diversity within the category, ensuring that customers can find the merlot that truly suits their tastes. Furthermore, the store prioritizes representation by featuring wines from BIPOC, LGBTQ+, and women winemakers who often face challenges in gaining visibility.
With its expansion into Washington D.C., the Urban Grape aims to not only increase its reach but also challenge the wine industry’s norms. By carving out space for underrepresented winemakers and implementing an inclusive classification system, the Urban Grape is redefining what it means to be a wine retailer. Their commitment to providing hospitable experiences and demystifying wine for everyday buyers has garnered them recognition as one of the best wine shops in the U.S.
As the Urban Grape continues to grow, their focus on building an e-commerce platform and nationwide shipping will allow customers from across the country to access their unique wine selection. With their new store in D.C., equipped with a private events room, the Urban Grape is poised for even greater success.
The story of the Urban Grape is a testament to the power of passion, innovation, and representation in the wine industry. By challenging traditional norms and providing a welcoming space for all wine enthusiasts, TJ and Hadley Douglas are transforming the way we shop for wine and ensuring that diverse voices are heard and celebrated.
1. How did TJ and Hadley Douglas become owners of the Urban Grape?
TJ Douglas, with a background in hospitality, discovered his love for wine while working as a bar manager in Boston. This led him and Hadley to open the Urban Grape, which has now become one of America’s largest Black-owned wine retailers.
2. What is the Urban Grape’s classification system?
The Urban Grape’s classification system categorizes wines by body rather than varietal or region. This allows customers to easily navigate wine shopping and find wines that match their preferences.
3. How does the Urban Grape prioritize representation?
The Urban Grape features wines from BIPOC, LGBTQ+, and women winemakers who often face challenges in gaining visibility. They aim to provide a platform for underrepresented winemakers in the industry.
4. What recognition has the Urban Grape received?
The Urban Grape has been recognized as one of the best wine shops in the U.S. for their commitment to providing hospitable experiences, demystifying wine, and challenging industry norms.
5. What are the future plans for the Urban Grape?
The Urban Grape plans to continue growing by focusing on building an e-commerce platform and offering nationwide shipping. Their new store in Washington D.C. is equipped with a private events room, positioning them for even greater success.
– BIPOC: Acronym for Black, Indigenous, and People of Color.
– LGBTQ+: Acronym for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer/Questioning, with the “+” symbol indicating inclusivity of other sexual orientations and identities.
– Urban Grape’s Website
– Article on Urban Grape’s Opening in Boston
– Article on Urban Grape’s Expansion to Washington D.C.