The Urban Grape, located in Boston’s South End, is the world’s first wine store to be organized using Progressive Shelving, grouping wines by their body instead of by region and varietal. Unique to Urban Grape, this method is revolutionizing the way consumers of all types buy, drink, and enjoy wine. Keep reading to learn how you can start drinking progressively.  

To TJ and Hadley Douglas, wine is more than just something to drink, it’s a way of life. After years in the restaurant business, TJ was looking for a new way to offer customers a unique wine experience rooted in education and approachability. In 2010, he and his wife Hadley opened the doors to the Urban Grape to share their concept of Progressive Shelving with the world. Progressive Shelving is a unique way of organizing wine by their body, rather than varietal or region. This way, wine drinkers can explore the range of flavors and experiences certain wines offer to expand their palette. Based on a 1-10 weighting system, each wine is given a number and a “W” for white, or “R” for red. The scale starts at 1 as the lightest-bodied wine, comparable to “skim milk” on the traditional wine body scale, and 10 being “heavy cream.”

The Impact of Progressive Shelving

Since sharing the Progressive Shelving method within the wine community, customers have been pouring in from all around the globe looking to try any of the 4,000 unique wines in rotation, hand selected by TJ and the Urban Grape team. With each consultation, customers are briefed on the Progressive Shelving Method and work alongside the Urban Grape staff to identify their likes and dislikes and explore other varietals. “The first time our customers come in, it’s a little different because there aren’t signs that say “Tuscany” or “California” on them, but there’s something for them here. Once they find a section of the store they like, let’s call it a 4W, which is a medium-bodied white wine, they can now explore 60 wines of different varietals and price points in that section.”

Drinking Progressively

For those that don’t live in the Boston area, TJ and Hadley Douglas have taken their expertise in the world of wine and wrote their first book, Drink Progressively. A compilation of years of wine industry experience, their new book is packed with food and wine pairings, details on the Progressive Scale, and even the best wine tools for every home bar. Now, even if you can’t visit the Urban Grape, you can still learn how to drink progressively. “We really have changed the way people think about, buy, and drink wine. We have even been told by some of our customers that when shopping in other stores, they overhear other buyers ask where the 8R section is when the store does not use the Progressive Shelving method!”

Urban Cellars

For those that are local, TJ and Hadley would love to have you in for a visit! For those that are looking to build on their wine collection, TJ offers personalized one-on-one consultations in the Urban Cellars, using our Coravin System to offer tastings of the best wines out there to help you fill your home bar just like the top restaurants. As TJ says, “going to someone’s home should be like going to a bar. There should be different flavors, textures and price points of all the wines in your cellar.” From approachable everyday wines to birth year vintages, to that special bottle to age overtime — it’s all in the Urban Cellars!

Have you been to the Urban Grape or do you #DrinkProgressively? We want to hear what you think! Tag @UrbanGrape and @Coravin across all channels.