Harold P. Olmo was a faculty member of the Department of Viticulture and Enology. A true wine icon, Olmo was the leading grapevine geneticist of his era. Olmo received his BS degree in Horticulture in 1931 from UC Berkeley, followed by a PhD in Genetics from UC Berkeley in 1934. He then worked as an Associate in the Experimental Station before beginning his career at UC Davis as an Assistant Professor of Viticulture in 1938. Olmo retired in 1977 with a legion of awards and merits, which continued to be bestowed upon him during his emeritus years.
This San Francisco native received The Wilder Medal of American Pomology Society in 1958, The Laureate and Medal for Outstanding Contributions to World Viticulture, by the Office International de la Vigne et du Vin, Lesbon in 1965, The Charter and Honorary Life Member, American Society for Enology and Viticulture in 1973, The Award of Merit by the American Pomology Society in 1974, The Papal Medal, Benemerenti by the Catholic Church in 1979, and the Rockefeller Spirit of Service Award, International, Executive Service Corps in 1993. He was a Guggenheim Fellow, Fulbright Scholar, and a consultant to the United Nations for over twenty years.
Olmo passed away in 2006 at 96 years of age.
In 1976, Harold and Helen Olmo established the Harold P. Olmo Fund from the royalties from his first three grape varietal creations: Carnelian, Centurion, and Carnine. It was their intent to support undergraduate, graduate, and post-doctoral students studying in the V&E Department, with preference given to those students with financial need. The Olmo Family hospitality is legendary; they not only hosted many a student in their home for dinners, they frequently had students live with them while pursuing their studies.