FOOD: Transforming the American Table 1950-2000

Stainless Steel and Cold Fermentation

California winemakers were early to adopt stainless-steel fermentation tanks and fittings, one of the major innovations in 20th century winemaking.  Stainless-steel tanks were easily cleaned and prevented bacteria from spoiling wine. Fitted with temperature-monitoring metal jackets, they also allowed more control over the temperature of the wine during the fermentation process. Winemakers discovered that stainless-steel tanks produced a more stable, flavorful result, especially with white wines.

Tank valve, 1990s

Gift of Warren and Barbara Winiarski

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Computer chip fermenting, 1990s-2010

Computer chip fermenting, 1990s-2010

These fermentation tanks developed by Silicon Valley engineer and winemaker T.J. Rodgers help researchers at UC Davis monitor and regulate fermentations with new precision. In the 1990s Rodgers devised a way to monitor real-time changes in temperature and sugar levels and make adjustments using programmable computer chips embedded in the tanks. 

Courtesy of Viticulture & Enology, UC Davis

Stainless-steel tanks, 1997

Stainless-steel tanks, 1997

One of the fermentation rooms at Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars in Napa, California

Carrier

This handmade carrier was used in the enology labs at the University of California, Davis, for carrying hydrometers from one work area to another. Gift of University of California, Davis.

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Hydrometers

Winemakers use hydrometers to monitor sugar levels during fermentation. Gift of University of California, Davis.

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Carboy

Glass carboys stored wine for research. Gift of University of California, Davis.

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Wine Cellar, 1966

Wine Cellar, 1966

The wine cellar in the enology building at UC Davis, held a wide variety of wines produced by faculty and students since the late 1930s. University researchers kept the wines for analysis and study, a resource that contributed to improvements in wine production.

Photograph by Ansel Adams, courtesy University of California, Riverside