Word arrived this afternoon of the death of Harold P. Olmo, who as a longtime grape geneticist at UC Davis was credited for helping lay the foundation for California's thriving wine trade.
He retired nearly 30 years ago, but he kept on researching grape vines virtually up to his death at 96 on Friday in Davis.
Over the nearly half a century he was at UC Davis he developed some 30 varieties of grapes, initiated research to show how some clones of a specific variety were superior to others, and accumulated grape genetic material from throughout the world to assure the preservation and propagation of rare and endangered grapes.
At various times he was called "the Luther Burbank of viticulture," "the Johnny Appleseed of viticulture" and "the Indiana Jones of viticulutre," the later prompted in part by his harrowing 1948 adventure through Afghanistan, Iran and India in search of the world's original grape vines.
An obituary on Harold Olmo was published July 4 in The Sacramento Bee.