The Urban Grape, named one of 2023’s best wine shops in the U.S. by Wine Enthusiast, will make its first foray outside of Boston in early 2024.
The decade-old, Black-owned business from ambitious husband-wife duo TJ and Hadley Douglas chose D.C. for its inaugural expansion market, in part, to be able to ship nationwide for the first time. Its newly announced location in the heart of Shaw (1301 9th Street NW) sits diagonal from All-Purpose. The Urban Grape plans to bring its unique wine-buying model down to D.C., which categorizes by body instead of varietal or region under a proprietary progressive scale system. Its Boston home base showcases a wall of 800 wines from 25 countries, along with beer, sake, spirits, and canned cocktails. Its new 4,300-square-foot store, nearly double the size, will carve out space for a private events room.
Urban Grape’s wildly successful wine shop in Boston’s buzzy South End neighborhood generates annual revenue approaching $7 million. There’s still room for big growth across its e-commerce platform, however, since Massachusetts’ strict wine laws prohibit out-of-state sales. The D.C. location will function as its main distribution hub and fuel an aggressive goal of becoming the biggest Black-owned wine retailer in the U.S. “We can put wine from diverse makers and regions into the hands of more customers from around the country,” per a statement from the team.
A recently closed financing round from Cambridge Savings Bank, which includes a $2 million Small Business Administration (SBA) loan, helps support the expansion. “There’s a lot of opportunity for us in the future,” TJ Douglas told the Boston Globe. “But it starts with D.C.”
Rooted in an ethos of hospitality and diversity, the Urban Grape partnered with Boston University during the dawn of the Black Lives Matter movement to award wine certificatation courses to people of color, along with providing mentorship and internship opportunities.
“We want to grow it nationally, go into HBCUs, and build a pipeline from consumers to career,” co-founder Hadley Douglas told Thrillist in 2020. “Our legacy will be to radically diversify the wine industry.”
Moving into a historically Black area near Howard University makes sense, “and [Shaw] has a strong and engaged neighborhood just like the South End,” per the team.