DeFalco's opened its doors in the Rice University Village in June of 1971 in the wake of a home winemaking boom. The original proprietor, Frank DeFalco, had an uncle, Dom DeFalco, who had opened a similar establishment in Ottawa, Ontario a few years earlier, and Frank leaned on his uncle for advice. Getting the doors open was no minor feat as Frank was obliged to go to Austin to get the legality of making wine at home clarified. This delayed the opening by several months. Technically, the aspiring amateur winemaker was required to contact the Texas Alcohol Beverage Commission and report the amount of homemade wine that was produced and pay 17¢ per gallon tax. Homebrewing was not even addressed as this was technically illegal nationwide since the repeal of Prohibition in 1933.
In March 1978, Scott Birdwell was hired as a part-time employee and was the company's first "beer expert" (after two successful batches!). DeFalco's carried homebrewing supplies even though, technically, the customer could not legally make beer with them. The standard line at the time was that the customer was merely producing "sparkling barley wine." Within a few months, Scott became a full-timer and Senator Alan Cranston introduced a bill in Washington DC to legalize homebrewing, which passed with minimal opposition that summer. President Carter signed the bill and beginning in February 1979, it was legal to make your own beer (sort of). Unfortunately, this law only removed the federal restrictions on homebrewing. Each individual state could prohibit the practice, if it was so inclined. Homebrewing wasn't legalized in Texas until 1983 (but, this is a story for another day!).
In the spring of 1980, the shop's lease expired and faced with a rent at nearly double the existing rate, the shop was moved around the corner to 5611 Morningside. Despite not having the atmosphere of the original University Boulevard location, the move was a good one for the shop and we remained there for the next 16 years. Later that same year, Frank DeFalco and his silent partner sold the shop to Birdwell, then the store manager. Good news came, again, five years later when The Gingerman opened up next door, and a symbiotic relationship was born!
In 1996, after sixteen years on Morningside, the property was sold and the new landlord tripled the rent, so the shop moved once more this time to Robinhood, about six blocks away. This proved to be our shortest stay at only five years when, stop me if you've heard this before, the landlord wanted to double the rent. It was at this point the shop moved out of the fashionable and high-priced Rice Village to Stella Link. After eleven years at 8715 Stella Link, we moved to our current location 9223 Stella Link in January 2012. With the popularity of home wine & beer making, we were compelled to expand, and the new location enabled us to nearly triple our square footage. We hope you like the new space. We have grown quite comfortable here.
Having been established in Houston since 1971, DeFalco's was the area's "go-to" source for wine, beer, cider, mead, & cheese making supplies for 48 years. Unfortunately, customers buying patterns change with time. The last five years have been an exceptionally tough time in the homebrew & home wine business. Hundreds of shops across the country have closed their doors in that period. We, unfortunately, could no longer hold out and closed our doors permanently September 8, 2019 after 48 years of service. Thank you for your support over the years!