Robert Krupp

Rob Krupp is entranced by wine for its ability to create and forge lasting memories. Taste and smell are processed in brain areas closely linked to emotion and memory processing, so it’s really no wonder that in our food and wine memories, we recall places, feelings, and with whom we shared the experience. The context in which you drink a wine—like the wine itself—is short-lived, there for a fleeting moment, then converted to a memory.

Is it possible to be hopelessly nostalgic about life, but also energized by what the future holds? Well, Rob thinks so, as he loves to draw parallels between his lifelong passion for baseball and his love of wine.  These two endeavors are heartbreakingly fixated on the past while dealing with the difficulty of maintaining relevance to the next generation that would ensure their long-term health. Is this a problem? No. It is an opportunity according to Rob. “As consumers become more invested in where their food comes from and how it was produced, we seem to be entering a golden age for environmentally-conscious producers to engage with a new audience.”

Over the past two decades, Rob has worked in varied roles in the wine industry, focusing on sales and supply chain management. After beginning his wine career with a start-up distributor in Colorado, he then moved to the East Coast to be a Key Account Manager for Polaner Selections. Working in the uber-competitive NY/NJ markets gave him his first deep exposure to unsung, indigenous varietals and living among a population that embraces trial and discovery in the wine world.

After leaving the East Coast to be closer to his then-girlfriend/now-wife, Rob spent four years at Vine Connections championing artisan wines from South America and boutique ginjo sake from Japan. This role developed from regional distributor management to establishing a uniform national account strategy for this ascending importer.

In 2012, Rob reunited with his industry mentor, Tim Elenteny, at his eponymous early-stage import logistics company. While at Elenteny Imports, Rob scaled and formalized importation processes and financial modeling for those in need of optimizing inventory management, with the ability to accurately forecast costs and lead times. For a self-described “mathlete”, establishing roadmaps that both improve profitability and enhance strategic vision for his clients was very satisfying work.  Rob reflected on this time by saying, “I loved being part of a process that asked how can we democratize shipping in a way that enables smaller importers/distributors representing authentic wines to compete with billion-dollar entities focused on volume versus artisanship?” In fact, it was through this role that Rob established professional relationships with fellow Schatzis Kevin Pike and Mark Hutchens, then clients, and now colleagues.

Before returning to the wine industry with Schatzi, Rob spent five years in business development/advisory work across multiple industries ranging from wholesale grocery distribution to sustainable packaging solution technology. He also volunteered his time to help launch a mutual-benefit trade organization focused on cultivating a vibrant community for Central Oregon CPG entrepreneurs.

From his culinary background that pre-dates his career in wine, Rob is drawn to marry just about any meal with a proper pairing; however humble it may be. An emotional bond comes with sharing food and wine with those closest to you, or even using it to make new friends. “We love using food and wine to bring friends together who otherwise might not share common interests. A favorite themed dinner of ours is The Rose Barolo where we invite our guests to bring a Nebbiolo-based wine, enjoy New Year’s Day college bowl games, and convene around a crispy, decadent, slow-roasted porchetta.”

Rob relocated his family to Bend, Oregon with a motivation to raise “free-range children” with easy access to the outdoors that he had growing up in the foothills of the Rockies in his own youth. “Nature allows us to disconnect from a world of never-ending notifications and reminders to focus on simplicity and heighten our creative sides. Finding that stillness of mind helps to declutter our lives and make space for new ideas.” Living among a strong ranching/farming community close to the Willamette Valley provides ample opportunity to pursue his culinary passions while having access to incredible raw materials raised/grown within 100 miles of his home.

In his personal time, Rob is motivated to spend as much time as possible outdoors exploring Oregon by trail, coastline, river, or fairway. Golf is a diversion that Rob believes shares more parallels with winemaking than most would give it credit. “Both activities can be cerebral in nature and there are commonalities between the path from tee to green and from harvest to bottle. There are numerous ways to get from Point A to Point B, but the best path typically involves strategy, discipline, patience, and a willingness to take chances. No two courses are the same and the best designers use the topography that nature provides without bulldozing their way to create a layout that juxtaposes with the native agronomy. This is not unlike what makes for a great vineyard site and non-interventionist wine-making practices.”

“The Schatzi portfolio covers all the bases of what I love about the industry. Working with great people who value sustainability and/or regenerative business practices, championing lesser-known varietals/regions that have a story to tell, and working with versatile wines that largely feature high-acid, moderate alcohol, and less oak, creating a broad canvas upon which to marry what is on your plate with what is in your glass.”