Marvel(ous) Winemaker of S.H.I.E.L.D.

Our harvest intern calls it a “shield.” I’m enamored of his word choice, since “shield” implies a superhuman power of deflection. We are not talking about the verb here, like hiding in a dark corner, crouched in a defensive position. I’m thinking more Captain America - you know, the concentric red and white circles, central star. “Shield” suggests I’m wielding the power, prevailing over darkness and disorder, like a bionic, fruit sorting machine. “Shield” makes me sound impenetrable. And I guess I ought to mention that I call it a “fin,” since we’re talking about a flat panel of stainless steel used to cool down overwrought fermentation bins.

Me and my "shield"


Two days ago, when I asked the intern to help me hoist the unwieldy piece of metal into my bin, he offhandedly remarked, “Yeah, those shields are awesome.” And indeed my fin can drop the temperature of a hot, bubbling bin in minutes (via interior coils of cold glycol). Today, because of my “shield,” what once caused me so much angst and dread is largely a thing of the past. Sure I still obsessively check the temperature as reflexively as Josh Duggar refreshes his Ashley Madison homepage (Doh!). But I’m no longer frantically heaving scoops of dry ice, woozy from carbon dioxide, beads of sticky grape juice clinging to my hairline, Monday’s Facebook post notwithstanding. Seriously, the dry ice dance is like so last year, literally. As in, last year I finally got the necessary “quick connect” attachments to hook the glycol hoses to my steel contraption. So now that I’m confidently through 17.8% of harvest, without ever hitting 90 degrees, I’m feeling impervious to the usual seasonal stress.

I was Easy-Breezy Overstreet, Ms. Cool-as-a-Garden-Cucumber, until I failed Harvest Pranks 101.

Exhibit A: please. Witness the text exchange below.



While a “shield” may protect my bins from overheating, it can’t protect me from myself. On the bright side, at least I haven’t doused myself with the hose…yet.

Here’s to a happy harvest season and healthy fermentations from the biggest tanks to the smallest bins.