Chief Executive Officer
BBA 1993 (Accounting)
Lanmeil Winery, Tanunda, Australia
As the sun gently rises over southern Australia, caressing vineyards in the rich wine country of Barossa Valley, Amy Heinicke (BBA1993) is captivated by the breathtaking view. She is not a tourist. It’s the view from her home nestled on five acres where she lives with her family. And she enjoys a similarly picturesque scene from her executive suite.
Heinicke is the Chief Executive Officer at Langmeil Winery in Tanunda, Australia.
Langmeil Winery is privately owned by fifth-generation families of the Barossa region and is regarded by wine enthusiasts as among of the top five percent of Australian wineries.
Before relocating to the far side of the globe, Heinicke was dedicated to expanding a demanding accounting career. After completing her undergraduate degree in accounting, she was hired by PriceWaterhouseCoopers as a staff auditor in Minneapolis. She advanced to senior tax consultant and constantly travelled the country to perform large-scale tax projects. She would later relocate to Chicago where she worked as a transaction services manager at PWC in mergers & acquisitions and travelled only 70 percent of the time.
“I clearly recall working 180 hours in ten days on a Section 144A debt offering. I was exhausted after years of near-constant travel, so when I visited a friend in Arizona, it occurred to me on the return flight that I was ready for a change.”
She moved to Arizona where she worked at Pentagon Technologies as director of financial planning and analysis. She excelled and soon was asked to transfer to the corporate office in the San Francisco area.
“When Silicon Valley was struggling, the semiconductor industry was particularly tough. I actually budgeted myself out of a job,” she recalls.
However, she landed on her feet with consulting opportunities for a commercial bank and a wind energy company.
Heinicke met and married her Australian husband who was working in the wine industry in San Francisco. Before long their family began to grow and they sought out a work-life balance and plenty of space to raise children. They moved to Australia's wine country.
Today Heinicke’s responsibilities include managing the entire operation at Langmeil Winery.
“I look at more weather reports than I ever used to since ultimately we are farmers. The grapes are the key, as we try to do the least possible in the winemaking process and allow the vineyards to do the work.”
Heinicke describes the operation as a cash-intensive business, requiring three years for premium wines to become ready for sale due to barrel and bottle aging.
“We are also a service company; therefore, my role is more sales and marketing focused, which has been a good change from previous roles that were primarily numbers-oriented.”
“We focus mainly on red wine, with 40 percent of sales coming just from the Shiraz grape,” explains Heinicke. “Our Shiraz vineyard was planted in 1843, which we believe to be the oldest Shiraz vineyard in the world. We produce a single vineyard wine made from these 168-year old vines.”
Langmeil Winery is steeped in history, as the property was originally purchased by German blacksmith, Christian Auricht in 1842. The original buildings—the cobbler shop, bakery, and blacksmith—are still standing and named on the National Heritage List and showcased in daily tours with 30,000-40,000 visitors to their cellar door annually.
Although she lives in a completely different hemisphere from her roots in Moline, Illinois, and her responsibilities require a broader range of business knowledge, Heinicke credits her accounting education for helping her develop her career. She says the University of Iowa’s accounting program taught her strong lessons in time management and dedication; two attributes that have served her well in her career.