Wines you can drink with a clear conscious |

Wines you can drink with a clear conscious

Jessica SlosbergVAIL CO, COLORADO
Special to the Daily

Being able to do what a person loves is hard, but doing what a person loves while making a difference is a feat. Judd Wallenbrock, owner and founder of Humanitas wines, does just that. He makes good wine and gives all the profits to charity. After more than 20 years in winemaking, Wallenbrock started his California business in 1997. He had turned 40 and was looking for a way to give back to the community; the volunteer work he tried just wasnt for him, he said.I learned I wasnt very good at volunteering, Wallenbrock said in a phone interview. He said while some people thrive on working with needy people, he came away really spent.But he wanted to do something that could make a difference in the world. He also wanted to do what he loves make wine. I realized I could marry the two ideas, he said. A lifelong dream was to own my own winery, but there are so many out there; I needed a compelling reason to start my own.

The winery Wallenbrock started is modeled after the Newmans Own brand in terms of giving to charities. The business is for-profit, but all the profits go to charities like Americas Second Harvest, Habitat for Humanity and Reading is Fundamental. Humanitas tracks where the wine is being bought so that the money can go back to the communities that it came from. Bob Cohen, the Humanitas wine distributor in Colorado, said the wines have been well-received in both the retail and restaurant worlds. He said some people in the valley have said the wines are perfect.The wines are available at local liquor stores and by the glass in some Vail Valley restaurants. People want to do what they can to help, he said, and the reception from the retail and restaurant communities has been great.Winemaking can be expensive, but Wallenbrock had the expertise to keep costs low in order to give the most amount of money to charity. Half of Wallenbrocks garage is a winery, and he rents space in other wineries to make his offerings. He also buys grapes outside of Napa Valley because they are cheaper but still high quality.The company started in 2001, and the first cases shipped in 2002. Wallenbrocks day job as president of Michel-Schlumberger wines allows him to donate all the profits.

After sampling the cabernet and the chardonnay, which is oak free, it is apparent he takes his craft seriously. The cabernet is fruit-forward with soft tanins; expect flavors of chocolate and cherry. The chardonnay is sweeter than a lot of other offerings and not being aged in oak barrels eliminates the heaviness that can be associated with this type of wine. The flavors of tropical fruits are bright and noticeable. Wallenbrock took a lesson from New Zealand and Australian wines.The company, which makes about 2,000 cases of wine a year, offers a cabernet sauvignon, a sauvignon blanc and a chardonnay. Wallenbrock said that he donated about $18,000 to charity last year, not including the wine he donated to charitable events.

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