Setting up a roadside stand that sold peaches in season and a handful of homemade jams and jellies, then building that business over half a century into a company with 150-plus products sold in all 50 states and several foreign countries seems cause for celebration.
On July 6, Case D. Fischer and Mark Wieser of Fischer & Wieser Specialty Foods plan to do exactly that in their hometown of Fredericksburg, Texas..
Much has changed in the food business over those 50 years, besides a single company’s growth. The Texas Hill Country has become a wine tourism mecca, second only to Napa Valley. The town founded by Germans in 1946 has become more ethnically diverse and more connected to Austin and San Antonio, though still remembering its roots in the Old Country. And surely most importantly, the world has become more fascinated by the flavors of and the stories behind a huge menu of global foods.
“We refer to it as the Culinary Adventure,” says President/CEO Fischer. “It reflects the amazing journey so many of us have made, from seeking mere sustenance to cultural celebration. July 6 is an opportunity for us to get together and celebrate the blessing that it has been to build a business right here in our hometown. We could never have done it without the support and partnership of our families, vendors and customers along the way.”
The open-to-the-public anniversary party takes place 5-9 p.m. at Das Peach Haus, the historic retail store operated by Fischer & Wieser at the site of the Wieser family’s original peach orchard from 1928. There will be a food truck (pizza by chef and bread guru Josh Raymer), live music on the deck (The Trey Shoots Trio), wine specials and drawings for prizes, all ending in a fireworks display after dark over the pond.
Founder Mark Wieser, then a high school teacher and later a county judge, opened a small stand selling peaches and other fresh produce in 1969, adding to the line with jams and jellies he cajoled his mother into making. In doing so, they were both paying homage to Mark’s visionary father, German-born JB Wieser. JB decided the area would be perfect for growing peaches and other fruits he remembered fondly from his native land. Before that, cotton had been the crop of choice.
Within less than a decade, by the mid-1930s, newspapers in the big cities of Texas and beyond were writing about “Fredericksburg peaches,” as though they had been the signature product there forever. The fame of these peaches grew as more tourists starting visiting the German town, especially once President Lyndon B. Johnson established his high-profile “Texas White House” on his family’s land just up the highway.
Wieser and Case D. Fischer, a local teenager who worked around the farm before studying food science and marketing at Texas A&M, became business partners in the 1980s. It was Fischer, working over a small stove, who developed The Original Roasted Raspberry Sauce, which took home Best New Flavor honors from the Fancy Food Show in New York City in 1997. The iconic sauce remains the company’s best seller, even as new, unexpected products diversified into additional brands, including the Italian-inspired comfort foods of Mom’s and the Asian-inspired wonders of Dr. Foo’s Kitchen. Over time, Fischer & Wieser incorporated Case Fischer’s wife Deanna and eventually their next generation, including Dietz, who earned a degree in engineering at Texas A&M, and Simon, who studied wine-making in Napa Valley.