TJ and Hadley Douglas own The Urban Grape, one of our favorite wine shops in Boston. The selection is amazing, the staff is approachable and knowledgeable, and the space itself is airy and gorgeous. The couple’s goal has always been to make the wine world more accessible, and their Progressive Shelving System organizes wines by body, rather than region or varietal. So when I told TJ that I like fizzy, crushable rosé, he was able to pull a whole armful of choices that fit my preferences and my budget — and show me where on the spectrum of light to full-bodied, my favorite bottles live. Thankfully, you don’t have to live in Boston to experience The Urban Grape, they wrote a book! Drinking Progressively takes all the intimidation out of picking the perfect wine to pair with dinner.
Recently, the pair launched the Urban Grape Wine Studies Award for Students of Color, to commemorate UG’s 10 year anniversary,“I wanted students of color in the wine industry to have the same opportunities I did – learning and working on all sides of the business,” says TJ, who after 20 years in the wine industry knows all too well the experience of being the only person of color in the room.
Recipients of the award will have the opportunity to complete Boston University’s Certificate in Wine Studies, as well as paid internships with distributor M.S Walker, Tiffani Faison’s Big Heart Hospitality, and The Urban Grape, where they will receive mentorship from TJ. They also hope to add a wine-making component to the program.
The Douglas’ started the award with $10,000 of their own money, and are now seeking donations to ensure it becomes a self-sustaining endowment,“The more money that we raise, the more students we can put through, and once we have a proof of concept here, then we want to take it to Cornell. We want to take it to UC Davis. We could hopefully, start a wine program in some of the Historically Black Colleges and Universities around the country… it’s going to be huge” says TJ.
We’ve got zero doubts about that.