ISSUE 51  |  Winter Cabins

Oenophiles and Amateurs Welcome

December 21, 2012 7:30 PM

BY Justine Hand

Featuring over 800 wines that are grouped by weight, rather than varietal or region, the new Urban Grape in Boston's historic South End features a unique organizational system called Progressive Shelving. The design, a relaxed and inviting mix of modern-industrial and old-town tavern, is pretty progressive, too.

To help them realize their vision of an approachable, but innovative wine store, Urban Grape owners T. J. and Hadley Douglas, who previously clocked many hours as restaurant managers, wine representatives, and marketing directors, turned to the team of South End-based Oudens-Ello Architecture. Working collaboratively with their clients, the architects conceived of an open, loft-style space defined by the Douglas's innovative approach to wine. The results are an utterly original wine store, where anyone from amateurs to oenophiles will feel right at home.

Photography by Justine Hand for Remodelista.

Above: A modern interpretation of traditional demijohns, Urban Grapes's original chandeliers came about in a group brainstorming session between the owners and architects. Amidst the discussion, T. J. found a simple pendant online. It was the architects' idea to group these into dramatic centerpiece. Individual Demijohn Lamps are available in three sizes at Wildflower Organics; from $330.

Above: The owners and architects' vision of having the wine bottles float in air was executed by Marc LaRochelle of Metal Tech Industries in North Falmouth, MA. Here you can also see Urban Grapes' labeling system, by which you can shop your preferred palette.

Above: Paying homage to Bean-Town's many traditional taverns, Urban Grape's design features large windows that take in the view of the historic brick townhouses of Boston's South End. Inside, floating on a sea of polished concrete, the rich wood of the walnut tasting table is warmed by the light from the demijohns.

Above: Encouraging customers to "take off their coats and stay a while," there's plenty of seating in which to lounge about at Urban Grape. The custom fabrics where designed by the Douglas' good friend and interior designer Michelle Gubitosa of Phi Design Group, whose finishing touches enhanced the cozy feel.

Above: Under the glow of the demijohns, Urban Grape's generous tasting table features cooling draws, so a chilled bottle is always on hand.

Above: Central to the design is Urban Grape's signature wine wall, a unique metal shelving system developed specifically for T. J. and Hadley, in which the bottles appear to float on air. Along the wall, wines are arranged progressively according to weight, from light to full-bodied. Upon entering the store, guests may saddle up to the EnoRound Elite Tasting Machine, where they can sample 16 wines to determine their preferred palette.

Above: Urban Grape's progressive system seeks to demystify what can be an intimidating process, so that customers have more time to actually enjoy their wines, perhaps while seated in one of the store's Eames chairs.

Above: In additional to an impressive selection of wine a spirits, the Urban Grape also stocks over 400 regional and micro-brews, as well as 60 sakes.

Above: Echoing the tasting table, the walnut counter is likewise illuminated by another demijohn chandelier.

Overseeing the construction of Urban Grape, Acella completed the project on time and on budget. The South End store is the second Urban Grape location. (the Hadley's have another store in Chestnut Hill, MA).

N.B.: Looking for more Bean-Town hot spots? Visit our guide to Massachusetts.