The wine world lost a great advocate and an even better person when Rob Henke passed away last week. After a short and courageous battle with cancer, Rob passed away much too young.
Rob was a former executive with a very large distribution company who left to start his own business in order to spend more time with family. While managing distribution, Rob was very aware of the poor reputation that brokers had in the industry. After years of experience working with wineries, brokers, and retailers, Rob felt that he could reinvent the role of a broker in the wine industry. He started Heartland Vintage Wines where he created a new model for brokerage. Rob was the ultimate marketer with relationships across the entire Midwest and beyond. We were very lucky to have Rob represent our wines.
Everyone knew Rob, and most importantly, everyone loved him. He was welcomed with open arms in every account from Kentucky to Illinois.
As great as a businessman as Rob was, it was his passion for family, friends, and kindness that captured me. He was truly one of the most genuine people I have ever met. He found a way to manage the demands of the wine industry and his family better than anyone I had seen. While I never met Rob’s family, I felt like I knew them as well as I knew him. That is what a couple of hours of windshield time brought when you rode with Rob.
I loved the opportunity to ride with Rob on marketing trips. You knew the week would be filled with success along with laughter, jokes, and stories. I remember one stretch of road from Indianapolis to Edwardsville, IL where I think we laughed the entire 4+ hours. I still had tears in my eyes when we walked into the account we were there to see.
The wine world lost a great person and a family lost an even better father, husband, and friend. Rest in peace Rob. Thank you for your friendship.
Daniel Benton - Assistant Winemaker, Croze Napa Valley