California Love: A Brief Look at Wine and Stainless Steel at California Universities

Stainless steel was among the most major innovations in 20th century winemaking. Here in the states, particularly in California, winemakers were quick to adopt the easy-to-clean, consistently sterile material for their fermentation tanks and fittings. Winemakers soon discovered that not only did the stainless steel prevent bacteria from spoiling their wines, it allowed for more control over the temperature of the fermentation process and ultimately empowered winemakers to create more stable, flavorful batches and varietals. Skolnik Industries are the experts on steel drums of all kinds (including the 85 gallon stainless wine barrel), so naturally, we’re big fans and producers of stainless steel wine barrels.

Starting as early as the late 1930’s, students and faculty at a major California university researched and experimented with new winemaking and fermentation technology. In fact, the enology building on campus housed a healthy wine cellar for decades. This cellar was packed with a variety of wines produced by students and faculty and researchers kept the wines as a study resource. This wine cellar contributed to many improvements in wine production including the finessing and use of early hydrometers, the testing and development of computer chip fermenting, and, our beloved stainless-steel tanks.

While California colleges are not responsible for the invention of stainless steel tanks, their continued research in winemaking and early adoption of the technology helped solidify stainless steel’s on-going role in the modern winemaking industry.