Sunday February 25 , 2018
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Nello Olivo Wins 100% Gold for 2010 Vintage

Nello Olivo and Yolanda Daly, Pacific Rim Wine Competition DirectorIn A Tough Wine Competition Year, Nello Olivo Has Won 100% Gold

Nello Olivo Wines, with vineyards in Cameron Park and tasting room at 643 Bee Street in Placerville, has won Gold Medals for all seven 2010 vintage wines released in 2013. The Gold Medals come from various wine competitions held in 2013.

A Crazy Goal?

“It might be a little crazy to set a goal of winning a gold medal for every one of our 2010 wines,” says owner, Nello Olivo. “But I’m a strong believer in the good things that come from simply trying your best, no matter what odds are against you.”


In the tough world of professional wine competitions, especially this year as more wines than ever were entered for competition, the odds are big against small wine producers like Nello.

For example at this year’s prestigious Finger Lakes International competition in New York, Nello entered 3 wines numbering among 3,505 wines from all 50 states and 19 foreign countries. Wines were judged professionally by 80 international judges.

“As a little guy, those numbers can either scare you away,” says Nello, “or they become a challenge you can’t refuse. Competing with the big boys means watching how they play the game, and big wineries know the benefits of winning competition medals.”

Nello Olivo and Yolanda Daly, Pacific Rim Wine Competition Director visiting the Nello Olivo tasting room to present the award for Best Red Wine at this year's show.

Nello Olivo with Yolanda Daly, Director of the Pacific Rim Wine Competition


Winning a Gold Medal gives a winery bragging rights. It attracts attention and increases sales. Competing for Gold also gets your wines evaluated by educated professionals who have a lot of experience tasting wines. Says Nello, “I love my family and friends and listen to their opinions, but I trust the notes I get from judges more. Winning Gold Medals tells me better than anything else that I’m on the right track.”

Wine lovers benefit too. With an explosion of available wines on the market, Gold Medals point to good buying choices, especially among premium priced wines. “When we go on the road for wine events,” says Nello, “people are immediately drawn first to my Gold-medal wines. Just seeing the Gold Medal makes them immediately enthusiastic about a wine before they even taste it.”


So how did Nello fare in the Finger Lakes competition? Judges awarded his 2010 Toscanello (proprietary red blend) with a Double Gold---meaning judges on the panel unanimously gave it a Gold score, as opposed to only a majority needed for a regular Gold.

The Orange County Fair, a competition considered by many to be one the country’s premier judgings, accepts only wines made from grapes grown in California. It’s the world’s largest and most comprehensive competitive arena for California wines. This year of the 2,520 wines entered, 30% received no medal, 57% received Bronze or Silver, and 13% earned Gold. Two of those Gold Medals went to Nello’s 2010 Primitivo and his 2010 Sangiovese.

See a list of all Gold Medals and awards given to Nello Olivo Wines.


A wine earns a Gold Medal when it achieves a score from judges high enough to place it in the Gold category. The scale can vary slightly in competitions, but In general for a wine to win Gold it must receive at least 90 points from judges (Silver, 80; Bronze, 70).

Scores are given in a blind evaluation process wherein wines are poured from bottles in a separate room and brought to judges in unmarked glasses. “Blind judging can level the playing field for us small fry,” says Nello. “Judges have no idea if that wine comes from a large mass-production winery or a small outfit like mine, a true boutique winery that puts out a hundred or more cases each of a small number of varietals.”

Choosing which wines to enter in a competition is an important decision for any winery. To have a well considered strategy is critical. Nello entered all seven 2010 varietals because he and his winemaking team believed each would stand up well in its class. However, Nello didn't enter all 7 wines in every competition. He explains: "Once a wine won Gold, as the competition season progressed, I sent a few other wines at a time to compete until all seven had won Gold."

Wines are judged in classes---Merlots against Merlots, Cabernets against Cabernets and so on---each wine scored according to how well it measures up to the accepted standards of its class. Judges also evaluate for appearance, aroma, taste, body, and balance.

Pacific Rim 2013 awards given to Nello Olivo Wine Barbera 2010


At this year’s Pacific Rim International Wine Competition, along with winning a Gold Medal, Nello’s 2010 Barbera was awarded Best of Class, or best of all competing Barberas. It also won Best Red Wine of Show, coming out on top against all red wines entered regardless of class.

Yolanda Daly, Director of the Pacific Rim competition, recently visited Nello at his Placerville tasting room to hand deliver the Best Red Wine of Show award. “I can tell you it’s unusual when a little guy does this well. And it makes us really happy!” she said. “At the end of the second day of competition, when all results were in, they brought me Nello’s Barbera to taste. It’s a beautiful wine, and I think it represents El Dorado wine region wonderfully. After meeting Nello and hearing his stories, I see he takes the kind of pride in his work that we all need to have.”


The same 2010 Barbera also won Gold in this year’s Los Angeles International competition. Nello’s other 2013 Gold Medals are for his 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon at the San Diego International Wine Competition, and the 2010 Merlot at the Critics Challenge International which also awarded Nello’s 2010 Petite Sirah a Gold Medal and Best of Class award. The 2010 Toscanello mentioned above also won Gold and Best Wine of El Dorado County at the San Diego County Fair competition and Gold in the Consumer Wine Awards in Lodi. The 2010 Primitivo (also mentioned) garnered a second Gold Medal at this year's San Diego International competition.

Gold Medals (and Higher) Won in 2013 Competition

Barbera '10
Best Red of Show, Best of Class, Gold - Pacific Rim International
Gold - LA International

Cabernet Sauvignon '10
Gold - San Diego International

Merlot '10
Gold - Critics Challenge International

Petite Sirah '10
Best of Class, Gold - Critics Challenge International

Primitivo '10
Gold - San Diego International
Gold - Orange County Fair

Sangiovese '10
Gold - Orange County Fair

Toscanello '10
Double Gold- Finger Lakes International
Gold - Consumer Wine Awards
Best Wine of El Dorado County, Gold - San Diego County Fair


Nello Olivo Online Store

Nello Olivo wine tasting room in Placerville

643 Bee Street, Placerville

Monday: closed
Tuesday: 11-5
Wednesday: 11-5
Thursday: 11-5
Friday: 11-7
Saturday: 11-7
Sunday: 11-7

We're the closest winery to Hwy 50, at the "corner of" Hwys 50 and 49. Start your wine tour here. We have winery maps!

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