Producing Quality One Jar at a Time
Turning nature’s bounty into some of America’s favorite pantry items is no easy task. But Fischer & Wieser Specialty Foods, a family business in the Texas Hill Country, has proved what two feisty German families felt in their heart of hearts when they started: If you’re honest and have a quality product, people will keep buying it.
Fischer & Wieser is an incredible success that is based on the storied American entrepreneurial dream. While the privately held company sells its pantry essentials from coast to coast and internationally, it continues to be owned and operated by members of the Fischer and Wieser families.
In 1928, Joseph and Estella Wieser bought 60 acres of land on the southern edge of Fredericksburg. Their son, Mark Wieser, founded Das Peach Haus as a roadside fruit stand in 1969, and he now serves as chairman of the Fischer & Wieser board. Quality has been the guiding principle of the business from the beginning, and the whole family was adamant that it remain high. Everyone on the farm pitched in. Mark and his dad tended the orchard, and his mom and her daughter-in-law, Jean, made the preserves that became the company’s first product. The rest of the family packed and picked the fuzzy delights fresh off the trees.
Mark taught school when he wasn’t in the orchard, and many of his students helped pick peaches during the spring and summer. Case D. Fisher, now president and CEO of the company, was one of them. He developed such a love for the business that he went off to college to study food and fiber marketing. He returned home full of new ideas and strategies, and he and Wieser became business partners. Today, the two men have a bond as strong as father and son.
The company is located in an historic warehouse just a couple of blocks off Main Street. The site makes it easy for local residents and visitors to run down and buy products from the well-stocked showroom. Or they can go out to picturesque Das Peach Haus, still in its original location. In 1967 Mark purchased the logs of an 1870 German log cabin for $150. Fischer & Wieser opened in June of 1969 for its first season. In the old-fashioned structure, visitors are invited to taste as many as 70 products at attractively arranged tasting stations.
The tradition that started the company all those years ago is what drives it today: Produce a quality product, and loyal customers will embrace it. The company now has more than a hundred items produced the same way as in the beginning—one jar at a time.
Fischer & Wieser’s flagship product, its award-winning Original Roasted Raspberry Chipotle Sauce®, helped put the family business on the specialty foods map. Through its national marketing campaign, the company was one of the first to put a chipotle pepper product on the shopping lists of home chefs from coast to coast.
“I had wanted to try a new product using raspberries, and we knew that fruit and pepper was a nice marriage in our preserves,” Case said. So he got busy in the company’s research kitchen and came up with a raspberry sauce with different kinds of peppers in it. He sent samples to friends in the restaurant and grocery businesses for their feedback. Their verdict: it’s okay, but it needs something. One suggested using a chipotle pepper, a smoked jalapeño produced exclusively in Mexico.
Fischer returned to the kitchen again, and he soon had a new concoction ready to send to his friends. His phone began ringing right away. “This is it!” one enthused. Another called to tell Case he was putting it on his restaurant menu. “Can you get it to me immediately?” he asked. A grocer responded: “This is the best thing I’ve ever tasted. I’ll take 50 cases.”
Today, The Original Roasted Raspberry Chipotle Sauce® is the number one specialty condiment sold in Texas.
The Original Roasted Raspberry Chipotle Sauce is the #1 item Fischer & Wieser makes, but 2009 marks the 40th anniversary of the company and has been an exciting year.
“In celebration of our 40th anniversary, we have revamped our packaging and launched over twenty new salsas, appetizers, sauces, dressings and jellies; with all these new products, we’ll be celebrating all summer long,” said Fischer.
Some of the exciting new offerings include a Havana Mojito Salsa which showcases large chunks of mango, spicy jalapenos and fresh mint leaves, a delicious and light alternative to the traditional salsa and Pasilla Chile Finishing Sauce, a finishing sauce made from the pasilla chiles out of the Oaxacan region of Mexico.
“One of my favorite new items is out Sweet Onion & Pepper Relish,” said Fischer. “Like many of our other sauces, this appetizer is perfect straight out of the bottle and poured over a soft cheese and served as an appetizer.”
Fischer & Wieser is still very much a family business. Mark and Case work together daily on all aspects of the busy operation. Case focuses on sales to the wholesale trade while Mark oversees the company stores and this internet site.
Mark’s niece, Jenny Wieser, holds a Ph.D. in biology and is Fischer & Wieser’s chief operating officer and director of production and shipping. Case’s wife, Deanna Fischer, is chief marketing officer and oversees wide-ranging marketing and community relations functions.
For 40 years, Fischer & Wieser has maintained a tradition of handcrafting delicious, gourmet offerings one jar at a time; this tradition will continue to be passed on for years to come.