VoChill Introduces a New Way for Austin Wine Lovers to Keep Cool
Austin couple duo Randall and Lisa Pawlik discuss their inventive wine-chilling device becoming a national best-seller
In a city full of innovation, a seemingly typical trip to Grove Wine Bar in Westlake resulted in an idea that that’s now enhancing wine tasting experiences for people around the world. Lisa and Randall Pawlik are the founders of VoChill, a product that’s now an Oprah’s Favorite Things and a “Shark Tank” hit.
While sitting on the patio at the Grove, due to Austin’s sometimes scorching temperatures, the couple noticed their wine flights were getting warm before they had the chance to enjoy them.
“You’re supposed to taste through the wine flight and experience and enjoy it,” says Lisa. “I wished there was something my glass could just rest in to stay chilled. Randall and I ended up talking about it the rest of the night.”
The Pawliks, with Lisa as a native Austinite and Randall as an Austinite of 30 years, went home and started researching, learning that there was nothing like what they were conceptualizing on the market. The only products involved things for consumers to put in wine like ice cubes or a tumbler.
“There’s a reason why there’s a wine glass,” says Lisa. “I don’t care if you are spending ten dollars on a bottle or a hundred dollars on a bottle, it’s more enjoyable to drink out of a glass.”
To create something that didn’t compromise wine, yet kept it at a desirable temperature, Randall, who had taken a design course
at MIT years ago, got to work and started using freezer packets similar to ketchup packet as a prototype, along with computer models. “Randall is the industrial designer of the product. We are pretty proud of that,” says Lisa. “We have other mechanical engineers, but he was able to design the entire product.”
A product that’s now only three years old, the Pawliks launched VoChill in June 2020, during a time when most people were staying at home.
“We were maybe adding a little bit of enjoyment to people’s wine consumption at home,” says Lisa. “This forced us to focus all our efforts online and go directly to the consumer.”
Today VoChill is also available for wholesale purchase, at independent retailers, on eCommerce sites, at wineries and in restaurants. In some cases, wineries are using VoChill as a “try before you buy” experience. Meierstone Vineyards and Texas Hills proudly boast the product in Stonewall and Johnson City.
“My wine is one hundred percent grapes, and all merchandise we sell in the tasting room are from Texas vendors, so VoChill is a perfect fit for our brand,” says Meierstone Vineyards owner, Krystal Patel. “Most people have seen bottle chillers but once the wine goes in your glass, it gets hot. I love sharing the story of VoChill with my customers. They get really excited about it, especially once they hold it and see how easily it comes apart and doesn’t take a lot of space in their freezer.”
Two types of chillers in seven different colors each exist currently — one chiller for a stemmed wine glass and one stemless chiller. The stemmed wine glass chiller launched first, followed by the creation of the stemless chiller a year and a half later. For best results, it’s recommended to place each chiller in the freezer for at least three hours before using. Then for the stemmed chiller, simply attach the cradle to the stand to place your glass inside. It’s held together with strong magnets that also allow for ease to take apart and reassemble. All VoChill products are proudly made in the USA.
“We have a product that’s never been made before, so we wanted to be sure that as we went through the design and development and creation and production, we were able to work out any potential problems very quickly and make sure there was not going to be a time or language barrier,” says Lisa.
“It continued to be a good thing because of the lockdowns happening overseas,” says Randall. “And all the logistical and shipping problems happening ever since. It’s been a benefit to having everything in the USA.”
Another thing some people may not realize about the product is that it’s good for all types of wine, including red. While red is typically consumed at a warmer, less chilled temperature, the Pawliks recommend using the products on all wine.
“When we first started introducing the product to sommeliers, that was their first reaction — how incredible it is for reds,” says Lisa. “So many people drink their reds at room temperature, but red wines should also be served slightly chilled. Even down to 50-55 degrees for a Pinot Noir or a lighter bodied red.”
A side-by-side test is recommended by the company. Wine enthusiasts can pour a temperature red and then pour another glass with a VoChill and see the difference. Potentially a small difference in one degree can have a major impact on the tasting experience. “Another unique feature about our product is that you can control the temperature,” says Randall. “You can manage the temperature to your liking. You can leave the glass in the product longer to let it chill down more or you can simply take it out of the VoChill to let it warm up some so you can control it.”
This is different from other products on the market, which would require consumers to take something out of the glass or put something in it to modify temperatures.
“The product is best used anywhere you are sipping on a glass — by the stovetop preparing dinner, on the patio or watching Netflix. Cleaning the house. Chasing your children. You can use it like a coaster and come back to it an hour later and your wine will still be perfectly chilled. For me, with my children, it’s my little reliable moment of bliss when I come back to the wine and it’s still chilled an hour later,” says Lisa.
An entrepreneurial spirit within Austin is something the Pawliks credit with also helping their rapid success.
“It’s a great place to launch a business. For entrepreneurs I just don’t think there’s a better city to be in,” says Lisa. “People are open to ideas, and they will listen, and they don’t think you are crazy. Everyone is willing to help, and that’s one thing we are grateful for even from the very early days.”
“A lot of other places and cities other people may say, ‘Ehh, maybe that won’t work,’” says Randall. “Instead, here, it’s, ‘You want to do that … let me introduce you to this person.’”
The couple plans to pay everything forward and is already working to mentor other business owners and help them connect with other people who could be of help.
“We received a lot of help along the way, and a lot of times people don’t realize how much a seemingly meaningless conversation to them can do for someone else,” says Lisa. “We will always pay it forward, and we are excited for our kids to grow up in Austin. We have a five-year-old and a seven-year-old, and for them to be part of the city here and to know and feel like the sky is the limit, that’s pretty unique.”
Passion is another factor for the couple — who loved wine long before VoChill’s creation. Both Lisa and Randall used to plan vacations around wine, often traveling to the best European spots for wine and becoming part of wine clubs.
“People often ask us what our favorite wine is,” says Lisa. “We don’t have one — it’s all about the ones we haven’t tried.”
For the Pawliks, VoChill is about a strong interest in wine — and a desire for something better, a way to keep wine chilled, straight from the glassware that it’s meant to be served and tasted in.