Oct 23, 2023Ed Auler, Texas Hill Country winegrape pioneer, dies
Hugo Edwin “Ed” Auler, a pioneer of the Texas Hill Country’s winegrape industry, has died. He was 78.
Ed Auler died Oct. 13. Funeral Services were Oct. 24 . Through their winery, Fall Creek Vineyards, in Tow, Texas, northwest of Austin, Texas, Ed and Susan Auler are regarded as helping establish the Texas Hill Country as a wine region, according to Extension personnel.
“Ed Auler was a true pioneer of the Texas wine industry,” said Jim Kamas, associate professor and Extension fruit specialist and director of the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Viticulture & Fruit Lab in Fredericksburg, Texas.
When Kamas first met Auler at the 1978 second Texas grape growers conference, 20 people attended. At his funeral in Austin, 500 mourned Auler’s death.
“Ed was forward-thinking, practical and his encouragement had a lot to do with where our industry is today,” Kamas said. Auler and Bob Oberhelman were among the first to plant grapes in the Texas Hill Country, Kamas said.
As a past president of the Texas Wine & Grape Growers Association (TWGGA), the organization was “sad to share the news of the passing of Ed Auler,” the Austin-based organization said in a statement. “Ed served as a TWGGA past president, and his contributions to and leadership in the Texas wine industry will not be forgotten.”
Born in Austin, Texas, in 1945, Ed attended the University of Texas (UT) after high school graduation, and in 1969, earned a Doctorate of Jurisprudence at UT’s School of Law. He met his wife Susan at UT and married in 1967.
Ed worked a law clerkship for Texas Supreme Court judge before joining an Austin law firm. He enlisted in the U. S. Army Reserve and returned to Austin in 1970 after completing his training.
Ed and Susan founded Fall Creek Vineyards in 1975 after a 1973 trip to France to view some French of cattle they were considering crossing with their Hill Country Angus herd, according to an obituary.
After taking over his family’s Hill Country ranch, Ed was looking at ways to improve the operation’s profitability. As the couple had developed an interest in wines, Susan wanted to see the major wine regions in France. They spent more time on the trip visiting vineyards.
The Aulers planted a small vineyard as an experiment in growing grapes and making wine. The plot grew from 1/4 acres to 7.5 acres. Today, the Aulers grow on more than 400 acres near Lake Buchanan as well as in Driftwood, Texas.
“It is with heavy hearts that we announce the passing of our beloved husband, father, friend, owner, and founder of Fall Creek Vineyards,” family members wrote on the winery’s website. “His visionary leadership and unwavering commitment have been the cornerstone of our company’s success.
“We take solace in knowing that all Fall Creek Vineyards’ team members share his passion and enthusiasm, and we are dedicated to continuing the legacy he imprinted on all of us. We also know that he is in the hands of our good Lord. Together, we will honor his memory by carrying forward his vision with the same dedication and spirit that has defined our company.”
In 1989, Ed and Susan won TWGGA’s Louis F. Qualia Award and also received the group’s Merit Award. The Louis F. Qualia Award recognizes a pioneering spirit in a Texas winemaker or grape grower. Involved in numerous community boards, Ed also received many civic awards.
Ed and Susan also founded the Texas Hill Country Wine and Food Festival, which is known as the Austin Food and Wine Festival. The winery’s wines were served at four U.S. presidential inaugurations, in the Texas governor’s mansion, and at state dinners.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that memorial gifts be made to Austin Ridge Church and West Austin Youth Association.