Bottle service gets a new meaning in Boston, courtesy of Upper Glass. Each month, the subscription-based wine club brings a curated selection of quality pours right to your doorstep, eliminating those wasted minutes in the wine store aisle. Local sommeliers handle the suggestions, so all you’ve got to do is have the wine key handy to give your glass a raise.
The seed of the idea — or the grapeseed, if you will — came from the mind of founder David Garlough, shaped by his career in tech startups. “If you were going to start from scratch and design a user experience for wine shopping, what would it look like?” asks Garlough. “I became fascinated (my wife would say obsessed) with the fact that there is such an immense selection of wine available to us, yet no way to make intelligent choices between them.” Garlough applied his new age skills to the old world arena in an attempt to close the value gap. “I’m an enthusiast,” he says. “I’m not a somm. I wouldn’t make a very good somm. I enjoy the creative process of building businesses and selling things and solving problems with technology. For me wine is the reason to exercise that muscle.” With that in mind, he called in the pros.
Every month, Upper Glass partners with a guest curator, a whiz of the local wine world, to put together a package of standout vintages centered on a theme. “It’s a little bit of seasonality,” says Garlough, “but also a lot of it is the personality of who we’re working with and what interests them. We put our trust in their palate and knowledge.” That could mean bottles from female winemakers, chosen by Haley Fortier and Kristie Weiss of haley.henry wine bar, or patio-worthy wines picked by Jodie Battles of Little Donkey, Toro, and Coppa.
The subscription ($80/month) covers a variety of grape and place for the adventurous Boston membership of Upper Glass — “intellectual, curious folks who want to discover new things”. “If you come at them a bit too basic, they’re going to see through it,” explains Garlough. The point of the box, though, is to get the wines in to the glass, so each bottle is versatile enough to open any night of the week.
Themes change but the emphasis remains on artisans. “Personally,” says Garlough, “I want to buy wines made by winemakers who pour heart and soul into their craft, who are creating an authentic reflection of a time and place, with character. Terroir, I guess, but it’s more than that. It’s the story and the struggle and the love of the craft and the land. I’d rather give my money to those people.” He adds: “And the artisan wines we’re working with generally taste a lot better, for about the same price.”
So, what’s in the box? Besides the month’s four bottles, there is a printed booklet featuring an interview with the curator and a letter on the box’s theme from the team (including wine writer and burgeoning wine story owner Lauren Friel). The wines are listed with introductory tasting notes and each bottle is tagged with a QR code for even more detailed information online. “We’re trying to connect that physical experience of interacting with the bottle with digital content that we can provide on demand,” Garlough says. Once the bottles are emptied and the box is gone, you can turn to the evolving online wine store on Upper Glass to re-stock on favorites or try something new. The glass, truly, overfloweth.