Staff Bios

   

TJ Douglas – Owner, General Manager, Buyer

I love wine. Not just the taste, but the experience. I love wandering into the kitchen an hour before dinner, seeing what is on tap for the evening’s meal, heading over to the wine cooler, and picking the perfect bottle. I love opening that bottle, pouring the wine into my glass, swirling it, smelling it, tasting it. Pouring my wife a glass, “cheers,” and taking that first real sip. Another great day on the books, now it’s time to relax and experience life in the moment.

I love that by age two and a half my oldest son knew that his grandfather likes Cabernet and that his mommy likes Bubbles. I love that my sons will grow up stacking bottles in The Urban Grape, learning about wine, and people, and the world; after all, wine is universal. I love that our family dinners feature good food, good conversation and, of course, good wine.

And I love The Urban Grape. It is the culmination of half my life’s work. From dishwasher, to server, to restaurant manager, to wine salesman, to the owner of a boutique wine store – each of my experiences with wine (and the people who love wine) has led me to this moment. I believe we have opened a store that can create community, memories, and joy through the experience of wine.

So enjoy – from my family dinner to yours.

Hadley Douglas – Owner, Communications/Events

My earliest wine memory centers around one word – “Trefethen.” Actually, it was two words – “More Trefethen!” It was my dad’s birthday party and I was about 15 years old. I sat to his right with my family and extended family stretched out on either side. Somehow I had a wine glass, and in the merriment that glass kept getting filled along with everyone else’s. A case of Trefethen into the evening, my older brothers took me aside and said, “Don’t worry, we’ll get you through this.” It was a fun night, but a while before I drank wine again.

After helping many other companies with their marketing, public relations, events and philanthropy I’m excited to now be doing the same for The Urban Grape. The perks are great – there’s always lots of wine to sip with dinner, and I liked the owner enough to marry him.

 

Trefethen: Powerhouse of a wine. Sweet purple fruit on the nose leads to rich, silky mouthfeel with flavors of baked anise, licorice and game.

 

Leah Bartlett – General Manager

For as long as I can recall wine has been a part of my routine – good wine, good food, and good friends paired with memories of time well spent. I love to learn and wine provides me a seemingly endless amount of learning. The more I learn, the less I know! Yet, the best thing about wine is that as much as there is to know, it is as simple as drinking what you like.

 

Chelsea Bell – Urban Affairs Manager

I grew up in Glosta, MA where family is deeply rooted. There is nothing I relish more than opening a bottle of wine (or two) with my family and friends and unwinding. I was introduced to wine by my parents and intensified my relationship through working at Best Cellars in Boston’s Back Bay while attending Northeastern University. I am a Certified Specialist of Wine through the Society for Wine Educators and my next challenge will be studying for the Certified Wine Educator exam. At the Urban Grape, I have found a lot of joy in teaching wine and organizing wine-based events. Through drinking wine, I learn a lot about myself and just like wine I am constantly evolving.

Kevin Benisvy

Born and raised in New England with a brief stint in Germany, Kevin came to the beverage business from a background in art history and writing. Most of all he loves wine, scotch, his cat, and shopping vicariously by sharing his enthusiasm with the Urban Grape customers.

 

Ben Bouton – Urban Hops Manager

Ben Bouton is a bow tie wearing beer buyer from Boston. Ben spends much of his time fawning over other peoples’ dogs, and finds his happy place with a grill and a good beer, glass of wine, or cocktail!

 

Curtis Coughlin

I graduated from culinary school in Chicago 1995 and have traveled beyond my wildest dreams studying wine, beer and the culinary arts formally, both here and abroad. I have cooked for a prince and princess in Berlin, Germany, Robert Redford, Jacques Pepin, and studied in the kitchens of Paul Bocuse (Lyon,) Jean Pierre Silva-”Hostellerie du Vieux, Moulin,”( Burgundy,) “The Ritz,” (Paris,) “Ambria,” (Chicago,) “The Park Hyatt,” (Chicago,) and more. Approaching nearly 20 years in the wine/culinary trades, I am blessed to continue my “Moveable Feast” here at UG, amongst some of the most genuine, talented, and passionate individuals I have thus far encountered.

Joseph McLaughlin

While working on the Queen Mary 2, Joseph was introduced to wines and alcoholic beverages around the globe and the travel and wine bugs both bit. Returning to Boston, he took some serious wine classes and now calls The Urban Grape his home away from home.

Yoko Ota-Sawyer

The most exciting thing about wine for me is that it lets me travel geographically and chronologically and what I love most about is that it brings people together. When I am not at the store, I work as fragrance consultant, judge wine competitions, travel-visiting wineries, practice yoga, and think about Champagne and Terry Theise!

 

Alex Rigenbach

It is telling, in hind-sight, that there is a picture of me, at four years old, in a yellow sundress curtsying in front of a wooden zinfandel box, in a new roll as planter, and a lobster trap, repurposed to be a deck table. Telling because forty years later, I am still repurposing wine boxes as planters and turning traps into tables, the sundress has long since been outgrown, but my love of the sunshine lives on. What does this have to do with wine? It is as much a part of my being as those images in the picture. Food, wine, plants, sunshine, what could be better?

 

Erich Schliebe

After spending over a decade in fine dining beverage programs, I am very happy to have found a home at The Urban Grape. I love Old World wines, three chord rock songs, the Oakland Raiders, Morningstar Farms fake chicken patties, potty humor, and spending time with my wife and daughter.

 

Stefán Sigujónsson

I was born in Iceland, studied classical music in the Netherlands and now live in Boston. I worked in a wine store in Iceland alongside my studies and took WSET classes to improve my wine knowledge. Besides working at the Urban Grape I sing all around Boston in various choirs and ensembles and teach the Icelandic language.

 

Rachel Tolzman

Opera singer and a passionate wine lover, Rachel has had the opportunity to travel the world and taste her way through different wine regions, especially those of Italy. She loves to cook and play with different flavor combinations, and will be more than happy to help you pick a wine to pair with your next meal.

 

Cathryn Vanettes – Special Orders Manager

Years of experience selling wine, beer and sprits in California and now Boston has taught me that there is nothing more satisfying than finding the right drink for the right occasion. Whether its a pilsner from a can on the beach, a gift bottle of Scotch, or a glass of perfectly aged Barolo with pasta and truffles, I love that my position at the Urban Grape lets me help customers find exactly what they need for any moment.