Ed and Susan Auler have proven that together they can do just about anything. In the early years of their marriage, Ed was practicing law while Susan was the ideal mother taking care of their children. As if that was not enough to keep a young family busy, the two also took over operations of Ed’s family cattle ranch.
Ed has many interests and enjoys researching his ideas, and while seeking new ways to enhance the profitability of the ranch, he learned about a French breed of cattle that he was considering breeding with his Angus. A trip to France sounded appealing to Susan, too, as she wanted to learn more about French food and wine.
Ed shared the story of his and Susan’s 1973 trip to France and laughed as he recounted how they spent only two days looking at cattle and nineteen days touring and tasting wine across the country’s iconic wine regions. While there, the two became excited about a new idea - growing wine grapes back home in Texas. Ed saw many similarities between his own land and the soils and climates in the great vineyard areas of France. They returned home with big dreams and a new plan.
Ed was certain that some of the unique features of the Texas Hill Country would make it ideal for grape growing, although some members of their extended family thought they had lost their minds when they returned and began discussing their idea to plant a vineyard. In 1975, they took the first steps to bring their dream to fruition by planting a test vineyard on a corner of their ranch and soon after, began making wine.
The couple did not stop there. They were also the force behind the Texas Hill Country getting its own American Viticultural Area (AVA) status. Ed began outlining the special geographic and geologic features of the region while Susan started a wine and food festival in 1986 to help establish a wine culture in the area. Ed’s legal knowledge helped with the application to the government, and the AVA was approved in 1990.
Chilean winemaker Sergio Cuadra, Director of Winemaking at Fall Creek Vineyards, met the Aulers in 2013. He had previously worked for many well-respected wineries such as Viña San Pedro, Anakena, and Viña Concha y Toro, as well as Paul Hobbs who introduced him to the Aulers.
He has stated, “I did not come here to make great Texas wines, instead I came here to make great, world-class wines that just happen to grow in Texas.” He has been making changes in both the vineyards and in the winery during his time at Fall Creek.
Today, Fall Creek Vineyards produces many award-winning wines and has long been revered for their Bordeaux-style blend Meritus. A recent project is the premium single varietal ExTerra line. This high-end label is a small production of three wines sourced from special blocks of the Salt Lick Vineyards and includes wine made from Tempranillo, Syrah, and Mourvèdre, all of which have received high scores from national critics.
Forty-five years later, the Aulers have shown they were visionaries and not so crazy after all. Today, the winery produces five different lines of wine priced from $12-100 which allows wine lovers at every price point to enjoy a taste of Texas from one of the modern-day pioneers of Texas wine.
Fall Creek is one of the oldest 100% Texas-grown and Texas-made wineries in the state. It is a quintessential stop when hitting the Texas Wine Trail whether in Driftwood, located outside of Austin, or at their original Tow, Texas location.
Fall Creek Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc Vintner’s Selection 2019
The Escondido growing area from which the grapes are sourced dates to the Cretaceous period; it was once under the Gulf. The sandstone soils are highly calcareous, and parts contain beds of oyster shells. There is very little Sauvignon Blanc grown in Texas, so the acreage is not even counted, making it a very unique wine for the state. The wine is fresh and lightly fruity with citrus notes and a distinct saline minerality that persists through the lingering finish. $22
Fall Creek Vineyards Chardonnay Vintner’s Selection Texas Hill Country 2018
Sourced from sandy loam soils, this wine is fermented and aged for five months in stainless steel tanks before bottling. It is fresh and flavorful with a medium body, classic notes of apple and citrus, a lush feel, and a lengthy finish. $25
Fall Creek Vineyards Chez Rosé 2019
The newest and most affordable rosé of the four produced is composed primarily of Merlot (87%) with some Tempranillo and Cabernet Sauvignon. It is dry, fresh, and fruity with notes of sweet red fruit. $17
Fall Creek Vineyards GSM Terroir Reflection Salt Lick Vineyards 2017
This wine is made from a blend of mostly Mourvèdre with Syrah and Grenache sourced from clay and loam topsoil over weathered limestone. The vineyard is deep and nutrient rich from years of flooding from nearby Onion Creek. The wine is loaded with red fruit flavors and has a savory edge to the finish. $50
Fall Creek Vineyards Meritus Certenberg Vineyards 2018
Prior to the advent of the ExTerra line, this wine was the most premium priced in the lineup. Like the ExTerra line, it is only made when the quality of the vintage warrants it. The blend is composed of Merlot (80%) and Cabernet Sauvignon (20%) and is aged for 18 months in French oak barrels with an additional two years in bottle before release. The plum notes from the Merlot define the flavor profile while the Cabernet Sauvignon adds black currant and floral violet undertones. It is firmly structured yet elegant with good aging potential. $50
Pro Tip: If splurging on the small production ExTerra line, choose Syrah, Mourvedre, or Tempranillo. $100
Recommended wines are available for purchase on the winery website at www.fcv.com.