The following are excerpts from the travel diary of Mark Wieser, Founder & Chairman of Fischer & Wieser, on a recent visit to Germany, Austria and Switzerland. Accompanying Mark was Simon Fischer, son of Case D. and Deanna Fischer. Mark and Simon visited Mark’s relatives who were warm and welcoming, and he and Simon had a very memorable stay. As you can see, Mark comes by his love of producing fine jams, jellies and sauces naturally–witness his grandmother’s recipes.
Markus Wieser of the Wachau Austria region, relation to Mark unknown, but a great friend of his, has a fantastic company in Austria, “Wieser Wachau,” which produces jams, jellies, liquers, cosmetics and much more.
As Mark states, “We wanted to meet with Markus Wieser because he is an expert whiskey maker and maker of liquors. We have been in contact with him for several months recently because he is advising us on development of some products in which investors have expressed an interest. We may return for another more detailed visit concerning those products. Simon and I brought home a suitcase of samples of his products, many, of course, with apricots, for which that region is famous.
I had to meet with my cousins to complete research on a writing project I’ve undertaken. We landed in Stuttgart where a friend of mine met us and took us to my cousin there. We enjoyed a Kaffeeklatsch before unpacking. For the next two days, her son Eckhard, took off from work to show us Stuttgart.
We visisted the Porsch and Mercedes-Benz Museums, took a ride on the Neckar River and went through two locks. We also tried sailing and walking along the vineyards we found along that river.
We then took the train to Tuttlingen where we visited with my 1st cousin, Lieselotte.
We rented a car and traveled to my grandmother’s birthplace, the Buhlhof, where we also met some cousins.
One day we traveled to my cousin’s daughter’s home and spent the afternoon touring a 14th century village.
Then Simon and I spent two days on Lake Constance where we tried to get tickets for a ride on a Zeppelin. We visited two Zeppelin Museums, however.
We also visited a reconstructed 5,000 year old village to show how early man lived on the lake for protection.
Because it was August and everyone in Europe was on vacation, no one would take us sailing. Consequently we spent the second day at the Rhine Falls, where Lake Constance forms the Rhine River.
We then took a 7 hour train ride to Austria where Markus Wieser met us and showed us his village. He gave us his car to use the next day and Simon and I cruised the Danube River for a stretch.
We visited his shops and tasted all his fine products. We hope he can come to Texas in November. I dumped my tennis shoes and packed dozens of his products in our suitcases.
Simon and I also visited grocery stores to note the recent trends that are confirming that the European pallet is turning to hotter tastes. This was not true some five years ago when we first exhibited through SUSTA at the Birmingham Food and Drink show. Now salsas are much more popular and heat is one thing that they are craving. We noted that in the UK in January as well. Simon did spot a hot ketchup.
We then took the train to Vienna for the day and toured the place where the Lippensteiner horses train. Then we came home.”
Mark’s great grandparents on his mother’s side came to Fredericksburg in 1851 from central Germany. His father, Joesph Wieser, came over from the extreme southern area of Germany on the Swiss border in 1914 at the age of 26, as an accountant. He learned English in 8 and 1/2 months, got his law degree, and later became a Gillespie County judge. Southern Germany, the area in which Joseph grew up, was similar to the Texas Hill Country, and since they had grown fruits trees such as peach, pear and apple there, he sent the Gillespie County farmers letters in the 1920s to encourage them to plant such trees. Many did, so this area has developed a peach-growing industry since that time.
When Mark was young, he and sisters and brothers, and his mother, Estella, had the responsibility of taking care of the peach orchard his father had planted. Mark’s father was strictly a “hands off” farmer, and didn’t want to use any pesticides or anything artificial–thus he was one of the original “organic farmers.” They harvested the peaches, Estella and her sisters preserved jams and jellies, and they sold them at their roadside stand. Thus the beginning of Fischer & Wieser. To learn more about the company’s history, please go to our “About Us” page on our website.
It just stands to reason that Mark would want to return to Germany and tap into the source of his family’s beginnings in farming and developing recipes, and preserving that heritage through Fischer & Wieser.
Mark and Simon spent a memorable and fruitful two weeks in Europe, and hope to return again in the near future.