Ed and Susan Auler took a trip to France in 1973 to look at some of the French breed of cattle for potentially crossing with their Angus herd in the Hill Country. This trip dramatically changed their lives. Ed was practicing law and had taken over the operation of his family’s Hill Country ranch, and he wanted to consider ways to upgrade his ranching operation to enhance its profitability.
Susan was interested in seeing the major wine regions in France, as they had developed an interest in wines. They did visit a French cattle operation, but the bottom line was that they spent 19 days of that trip enjoying the French wine country from Reims to Burgundy to Rhone across the south of France to Bordeaux and Loire and only 2 days looking at cattle! They both rapidly gained an education and appreciation of French wines, foods and culture.
Within 2 years of that trip in 1975, the Aulers had put in a test plot on a corner of their Fall Creek Ranch to experiment with wine growing at the encouragement of Texas A & M and Texas Tech Universities. That test plot grew from ¼ acre to 7 ½ acres in 1979, and Ed decided to give up his law practice, formally establishing the winery facilities in 1980. The Aulers began purchasing 400 acres along the west side of Lake Buchanan which would become the home of Fall Creek Vineyards. So, a chance trip to France changed Ed’s professional focus from law and ranching to wine growing.
In the mid-1980s the Aulers looked to Napa and Sonoma for wine expertise by consulting with U.C. Davis professors, California and French winemakers, and Andre Tchelistcheff as their initial wine consultant to Fall Creek Vineyards. Susan and Ed founded the Texas Hill Country Wine & Food Festival in 1986 to publicize the Texas Hill Country as a known wine region, and Ed’s application to the U.S. government for the Texas Hill Country appellation was granted in 1990. This identified the Texas Hill Country region as a recognized and respected viticultural region, already a natural tourist attraction with beautiful hills and lakes, acclaimed chefs, and now world-class wines.