Once upon a time . . . . .
Why “Austrian Farms of Texas”?
Now, the “Texas” is self-explanatory.
“Austrian” – well, once upon a time in a small, sleepy village in Austria was born a little girl named Alexandra, who was destined to shatter the confining boundaries of little village lower class living, dreaming of an exciting life full of exotic destinations, romantic, eternal love and immeasurable riches.
And then reality kicked in.
But, thanks to her parents’ sacrifices, she went through chemistry and management schools and was able to obtain the best education available, to break the social barriers and to realize the first part of her dreams.
Traveling extensively over half the world, living in different countries like Turkey and Spain, learning to interact with different cultures and customs made her appreciate the traditions and perks of small town life, homemade cuisine and the typical excellent Edelbrand (fruit brandy) back in Austria.
The “eternal love”-part was still just a dream, what became really obvious after her second marriage went the way of the Dodo.
Raising her son as a single mother and building on her education, training and engineering experience she founded and headed the Austrian Branch of a German company designing, engineering and constructing automation and control systems for power and process plants.
Moving from Austria to Texas in 1998 provided her then 12-year-old son with the necessary education and opportunities to pursue his career as a rocket scientist and herself finally with the realization of the second part of her dreams – see above: eternal love.
2001 she found her soul mate/best friend/dedicated partner/greatest husband and father…K.C., who was destined to shatter the confining boundaries of little village etc…
See a pattern here?
Oh, that’s not the only one.
After a few years of college and traveling over the other half of the world K.C. worked his way from Subsea engineer to adapting and perfecting new technologies and continued in design, engineering and construction of gas and process plants.
After losing everything because of a case of Identity theft and working day jobs in construction, landscaping and house cleaning to keep their son in college, K.C. finally was able to go back into the regular workforce and to continue his career path to construction manager of a crucial part of the largest Aluminum plant in the world at time.
Commuting between Texas, Virginia, Spain, Kuwait - to name just a few – tired of being separated for weeks and months at times they went together for a 3-year stint to the United Arab Emirates. Drained of being subjected to uncontrollable regulations and rules, they decided to come back home to the “Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave” only to find that the uncontrollable regulations and rules were now executed by American Homeowner’s Associations instead of Arabic magistrates.
Trying to settle down in the suburbs of Houston, TX while K.C. took his next job and the next plane to Virginia and Washington, D.C., Alexandra got a letter from the Homeowner’s Association, complaining about a weed the size of a cocktail umbrella (you know, the little, tiny, colory things in your drink) growing in the drive way.
Taking a picture (not without ZOOM, otherwise you could not even make it out) from the weed, attaching it to the “preferred plant list” and sending it to K.C., his remark was “don’t unpack, we are not staying”.
On his next off days at home the decisive moment happened.
Sitting on the (weed free) back patio, enjoying good food and a bottle of Edelbrand (they brought with them from their last Austria trip, they dreamed of a little, peaceful place out in the country.
No 747 Jumbo flight path! No traffic! No restrictions! No preferred plant list! And definitely no Homeowner’s Association!
But how to make a living without being separated again?
The bottle of Edelbrand stared in their faces!
And then it happened!
Alexandra said,” I can make Edelbrand! We can do that!”
So far, their key experience with Edelbrand just went so far as drinking it.
Alexandra had a considerable advantage, growing up in Austria and knowing the “ins and outs” of the really good stuff and even know some producers. This advantage grew ginormous when it came to the research.
Planning on using the traditional technique she was used to (quality over quantity) most material came from Austria, Germany and Switzerland – in original language, no dubbing or sub titles, that means in German, or Austrian, which is more or less a dialect of German, depending on the region more or less understandable, or Swiss, which sometimes sounds like strep throat…
And then Fortuna smiled upon them and emptied her cornucopia on their heads:
There exists a “Distilling village” in the Tyrolean alps.
Imagine: a small plateau, one little, narrowly winding road leading to the steps of heaven!
Can you remember “Whoville”? That’s how it looks like. And it is THAT hard to get there!
150 households and roughly 60 award-winning distilleries! In fact, there are more distillery licenses than houses.
They got to know, what they are doing! For centuries now!
So, the first step in their endeavor was registering Alexandra for Austrian seminars and courses, theoretical and practical, planning a trip to different still manufacturers and distillers all over southern Germany and Austria and definitely a visit in “Whoville”.
The next hurdle presented itself in finding their dream place. A story, their dear friend and greatest realtor in the world (and they know, what they are talking about) Linda Ihns can probably tell best. Alexandra “schlepped” her back and forth through half of Texas!
Finally they found a little place of heaven out in the country in Luling, south of Austin.
And yes, Linda is talking to them again!
Moving there and making the place their own while K.C. was still traveling all over the States is a story on it’s own.
Please refer to their articles “AFT monthly”, which will be issued monthly (or every other month, or half yearly – hey, she needs time to distill too!) to know how an Austrian sheltered debutante type copes with the slings and arrows of Texan wildlife, which is very different than the Austrian (and man, how exorbitantly different) or wrestles with a well pump, is worth a good bottle of wine or better Edelbrand.
Being from Austria and speaking Tirolyan as well as living in Texas and being for sure no threat of competition for the regional market, Alexandra and K.C. had the unprecedented privilege and exceptional honor to be invited by the chairman of the “Whoville” Distilling Guild (this nth-generation distilling master can plaster his driveway with gold medals), for an intensive course from A (like apple) to Z (like Zirbe = Swiss stone pine) and induction into the centuries old highly coveted secrets of highest quality, award winning alpine distilling.
After jumping through a lot of hoops, satisfying the demands of the different and numerous government entities, they finally obtained their distilling permit on December 19, 2016.
Currently perfecting the recipe, process and end product while jousting with countless different tax forms, reports and records, setting up a web site, connecting with social media etc. the first batch of Apple-Edelbrand will hopefully be ready for bottling in May/June 2017.
And, Lord willing, batches of highest quality, traditionally made Pear, Peach, Plum and other fruit Edelbrand will follow soon to please your taste buds and your pallet enough to create their retirement income and will lastly allow K.C. to quit traveling, join the workforce at AFT Distillery and stay at home with his eternal love Alexandra.
Now, about the dreams of the little Austrian girl and the Texan boy?
First part of the dream? Be careful, what you wish for!
Second part? See third part!
Third part? Who needs immeasurable riches, when you have eternal love?