In the 1970s, San Antonio attorney Franklin Houser and his wife, Bonnie, purchased 103 acres of land just outside of New Braunfels as a getaway home for their young family. The Dry Comal Creek was full of wild mustang grapes and dewberries. When Franklin retired, the first grapevines were planted in 1992. The following year, after a successful inaugural growing season, Dry Comal Creek Vineyards planted 4,000 vines of Vitus vinifera. The first grapes were harvested in 1995, our first Texas wine was produced in 1998 and the Tasting Room opened the same year.
Catastrophic floods in 1998 and 2002 washed out the vineyards and the winery, providing a major set-back for the business. In 2000, testing confirmed that the vineyard was infested with Pierce’s disease, a Gulf coast bacterial pathogen that kills vines. The owners had to rip out two entire crops of diseased plants, leaving them without grapes to harvest.
Determined to succeed, Franklin and Bonnie creatively developed a series of core wines that no other Texas or California winery was making. And, since there is no known cure for Pierce’s disease, Franklin researched and found a resistant grape named Black Spanish.
Today, the Black Spanish grapevines are flourishing and the Houser’s have become known as the pioneers in Texas of Black Spanish winemaking and vineyards.