History of The Wine Well Chiller


The Wine Well Chiller came into existence in 1973, when a local store owner named Richard Dwyer complained to Jim Fisher (now the company’s chairman) that his all-time greatest and oft-repeated frustration occurred when a customer asked “Do you have one of these cold?”  The customer would be holding one of the hundreds of wines that Dwyer stocked.  Because his cooler space was modest in size, Dwyer usually had to answer apologetically, “I’m afraid not.”

Dwyer said to Fisher “Wouldn’t it be great if I had some kind of a cooling coil up here by the cash register where I could put the bottle into it for a few minutes, then hand it to the customer, chilled?”  Dwyer went on, “Now what are those waiting customers going to do? They will probably walk over to look at what is on nearby shelves, and possibly pick up something else to purchase.”  Fisher thought that Dwyer might have a pretty good idea.  He knew the bare coil idea was not likely to work, but he also knew what might very well do the job.  He told Dwyer that he was interested in his idea and wanted to do some testing.  They both agreed that an acceptable waiting time was 5 minutes, and that a good target temperature for the wine was 50ºF (10º C). 

Fisher bought a couple of bottles of inexpensive white wine, then in a nearby hardware store he selected an indoor-outdoor thermometer with a remote sensing bulb, plus a plastic pail deep enough to contain the wine.  At home, Fisher emptied several trays of ice cubes into the pail, and filled it with enough water to submerge a wine bottle up to the neck.  An engineer, he knew that the temperature of ice-water, when about half the mixture is ice, was 33º F, so he calibrated the thermometer accordingly.  It was mid-April, and the temperature of the wine in both bottles was close to 70º F. 

Submerging the first bottle and timing it, he did nothing further except to stir the wine in the bottle with a metal rod after about 10 minutes.  It was still above the target temperature, but reached 50º F 3 minutes later – total time to chill to 50º F was about 13 minutes.  The second bottle of wine was treated differently.  After immersing it, a wooden spoon was used to vigorously stir the ice-water as the wine cooled.  This time, the wine reached 50º F in just 6 minutes, and Fisher was elated by the result.  Moving ice-cold water was the answer he was looking.  He believed that he now had the basis for a new, saleable product.   

Working with a long time friend and business associate, Bill Grimes, who was both an experienced corporate attorney, as well as a patent attorney, Fisher formed a company, first called Thermetrics Corporation.  He also designed the first and subsequent models in late 1973.  Manufacturing and sales began in May of 1974.  Wine Well Chillers have been sold throughout the world, but primarily in North America.