Drink wine for charity with Humanitas Wine Company

Many wineries are generous in donating to charities. Some show their support by donating bottles for auctions and fundraisers. Others give back through direct cash donations. Recently, a growing number of wineries are donating a portion of their proceeds from the sale of their wine. There is one winery that has taken this concept to a whole new level. All their profits go to charity! Rather than giving the profits to shareholders or employees, the money is given to those in need.

Meet Humanitas Wine Company, it is a unique winery with social conscience. Simply stated, they make wine, sell it, and give the profits to charity! Specifically, the profits go to local associations. They don’t give the funds to national headquarters. The donations are made to regional chapters in the community where the wine is sold. By purchasing their wines, you are truly giving back to your own city!

Humanitas was started in 2001 by Judd Wallenbrock. He has experienced a very successful career in the wine industry, working in almost every facet of the business, from restaurants and retail to marketing and winery management. Along with running Humanitas, Wallenbrock also is the General Manager for Jessup Cellars and Handwritten Wines, locally owned by the Thompson & Blue families. But it was while working with Robert Mondavi as an executive to develop the Woodbridge brand, that his passion for philanthropy began. The legendary winemaker shared his idea with Wallenbrock that wine should be made for everyone’s enjoyment, no matter their financial status. It was from that experience that the idea of “drinking charitably” was borne.

The original winery is located at Wallenbrock’s home in Napa. He affectionately calls it the ‘Shed-teau’ as it is literally a shed he built. Wine has also been made at several locations, in some cases by himself or by using consulting winemakers. Moving forward, Rob Lloyd of Jessup Cellars will make all the wine.

While the story is heartwarming and the effort commendable, I’m sure you’re wondering about the quality of the wine.

Humanitas has three different tiers to choose from, depending on your palette and budget. The first tier is the “Good Life Series” with a Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay, both priced at $20. The Chardonnay was amazing, however the Paso Robles Cabernet stole my heart. An easy drinking cab not overdone with oaky tight tannins. Velvety raspberry truffle mingles with a earthiness and minerality that surprises the palate. These wines show off the grape varietal and are an excellent value compared to similar wines on the market.

The “Good Earth Series” is the middle tier and signify vineyard designate wines, truly showing the importance of terroir. The use of the highest quality fruit are evident in these $40 bottles. There are seven wines in this tier, however, at this time only three are available in Sioux Falls. The Sugarloaf Mountain Merlot is a rugged, earthy wine full of ripe plum and herbs. Off the beaten track high above the Dry Creek Valley is the Schlumberger Vineyards where the stunning Malbec and Cabernet Franc are grown. Home to Bordeaux varietals, the steep hillside produces intense small fruit for a wine that is full of deep ripe blackberry and new car leather. Two years spent in French oak certainly adds to the complexity. With only 4 barrels being made, securing a bottle of each of these is a must!

Last is the “Signature Series,” which is the creme-de-la creme of Humanitas wines and contains only one $75 wine, Signum Meritage. From the same mountain side as the Merlot, this Bordeaux-style blend has the muscles of a NFL linebacker. A wine perfect for a football Sunday, opening at the noon kick-off, intense cocoa and cigar wrapper is at the forefront. By the time the second game begins, pomegranate cola grabs hold. Your last glass during the night game now reveals the velvety dark fruit. For those looking for a rewarding wine experience, it doesn’t get better than this bottle of wine!

So whether you like good wine, giving to charity or both, Humanitas gives you the opportunity to change the world, one delicious sip at a time. These wines aren’t run-of-the-mill, they over-deliver on quality beyond their price points. In Sioux Falls, all profits will be donated to the Edith Sanford Breast Cancer Foundation. Grab a bottle and feel good about what you’re drinking.

- Laurel Lather