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Mike Filigenzi

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Viticulturist Harold Olmo passes away

by Mike Filigenzi » Tue Jul 04, 2006 11:04 am

A pioneer in American viticulture has died. From Mike Dunne's obituary in the Sacramento Bee:

Harold P. Olmo, whose adventurous determination to better understand the genetics of grape vines earned him the sobriquet "the Indiana Jones of viticulture," is dead at age 96.

Mr. Olmo, emeritus professor of viticulture at UC Davis, died in a Davis convalescent home Friday of complications from a fall in which he fractured a hip last month.

"He's probably the most important viticulturist we've ever had in the United States," said Sacramento grocer Darrell Corti.

A native San Franciscan, Mr. Olmo joined the department of viticulture and enology at UC Davis in 1931 after earning a bachelor's degree in horticulture at UC Berkeley and Davis.

Though he retired as professor of viticulture in 1977, he kept an office on campus until four years ago, and continued research until just before his death.


There's more at http://www.sacbee.com/content/news/obit ... 4386c.html
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Mike
"People who love to eat are always the best people"

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Bob Ross

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Re: Viticulturist Harold Olmo passes away

by Bob Ross » Wed Jul 05, 2006 11:29 am

Thanks for the note, Mike. Lakemead has a short summary of his career and a link to a very interesting article about his trips to Afghanistan. I had no idea how important the Afghan/California agricultural links are.

http://www.larkmead.com/larkmead_vineya ... d_olmo.php
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Bob Ross

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Re: Viticulturist Harold Olmo passes away

by Bob Ross » Fri Jul 07, 2006 11:37 am

Jancis Robinson had an interesting note on Olmo as well:

Farewell H P Olmopublication date: 05 jul 06

At 5.30pm last Friday, just as those of us at the Masters of Wine symposium down the road were listening to Josh Wesson of Best Cellars tell us that the average retail price paid by Americans per bottle of wine had now reached $12, UC Davis's best-known viticulturist Professor Harold Olmo died peacefully at a home in Davis, a month before he would have been 97.


It was he who, at the invitation of the Western Australian government, was responsible in 1955 for suggesting that Frankland could make suitable terrain for grape growing - and laid the foundations for Dr John Gladstones' espousal of Margaret River. How right he was. Frankland Estate call their top Bordeaux blend Olmo’s Reward in his honour. In the 1930s, he had successfully explored Afghanistan on horseback and by camel in search of plants that were likely to thrive in the California climate which indeed subsequently thrived.

He was also a fiendishly prolific grape breeder, responsible for, inter alia, such varieties as Emerald Riesling, the widely planted crossing of Carignan and Cabernet Sauvignon Ruby Cabernet, Carnelian, and the infamous Rubired that has increasingly been used in California and Australia to add colour to wine made from over-productive vines. He did not shrink from frankness, pointing out in 1951, "I do not know of a single vineyard of the Pinot Noir in California where I could recommend that a grower obtain propagating wood, because our plantings are largely poor strains and the proportion of our vines showing degeneration is large indeed." A Guggenheim Fellow and Fulbright scholar, he retired from Davis in 1977.

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