Valve for Tanks

This valve fitting was used in the mid-1990s to seal an opening in one of the stainless-steel fermentation tanks at Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars (SLWC) in California’s Napa Valley. Stainless steel tanks and fittings are among the major innovations in 20th century winemaking. Easily cleaned and maintained, the stainless steel tanks also prevent bacteria from spoiling the wine. Fitted with temperature-monitoring metal jackets, they also allow more control over the temperature of the wine during the fermentation process.
In an interview with Smithsonian researchers in 1997, Julia Winiarski, daughter of SLWC founders Warren and Barbara Winiarski, described how she learned the important function of tank valves as a child growing up at the winery. She recalled,
I was curious about the valves on the tank and I had wondered how they worked. So one day I came home from school and instead of walking right up the hill I wandered through where the tanks were and decided to find out how the valve worked. I opened a valve, I think my face was at the height, and the valve was kind of right face level and I just got blasted backwards by a jet of red wine. So I was terrified and I ran away, of course. Luckily someone had heard me shout when it first happened and came up and closed the valve and came and found me sniveling and wine soaked. At least I learned a healthy respect for valves.
Object Name
valve, for tanks with fittings
Physical Description
metal (overall material)
manufactured (overall production method/technique)
overall: 16 cm x 16 cm x 17.5 cm; 6 5/16 in x 6 5/16 in x 6 7/8 in
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
FOOD: Transforming the American Table 1950-2000
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Work and Industry: Agriculture
FOOD: Transforming the American Table 1950-2000
Food: Transforming the American Table, 1950-2000
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
Additional Media

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