Thursday February 22 , 2018
Text Size

Lance Johnson

Lance JohnsonDirector of Vineyard Operations

There have been many events along the way that influenced my passion to be a winegrower.  I remember so vividly when I was about four years old and my Greek Grandfather led me out to the barn and took an old tin can, which he filled with some red wine from an old dusty barrel.  He offered me a sip and it was good.  I tried my hand at milking a goat that day also.

While attending UC Davis in the early 70's, my roommate at the time was an enology student. That seemed so interesting to me as a subject that I soon changed my major study from wildlife biology to plant science. I then started taking as many viticulture and enology classes that I could and eventually received a Bachelor's Degree in Plant Science/Viticulture.  My professors were very passionate about grape growing and winemaking, which made this subject all the more exciting and interesting.  It was there that I learned that wine is made in the vineyard - it takes good grapes to make good wine.  I feel blessed to have been taught by some of the best in the business.

After finishing school I had many jobs including fruit, grain and commodities inspector for the California Department of Food and Agriculture. At that time, I found myself involved and passionate about photography as a hobby, learning as much as I could and I developed a portfolio.  My direction eventually changed and I landed a job with the City of Sacramento Recreation and Parks department as a photographer/Publicist for a couple of years and then went out on my own as an editorial photographer.  My business grew with many large clients in the Sacramento area.

While working in the photography business, my wife, Angela and I moved to El Dorado County and it was there that my interest in viticulture was re-kindled.  We had the space, so I planted a small vineyard that had always been a dream of mine and began making homemade wine.  Our little vineyard has produced many awards including gold, double gold, and best of show at various fairs including the California State Fair. 

A few years later, I had an opportunity to develop a commercial vineyard in the Clarksburg appellation of the Sacramento River Delta region.  There I had the opportunity to meet and to be mentored by some of the top wine growers in the area.  This was a great learning experience for me and I am glad to say that the vineyard in Clarksburg is still doing well.

After over 22 years in the photo business, I decided to place all of my attention to winegrowing and agriculture and put the photo business behind me.  I went to work for the El Dorado County Ag Commissioner as an Agriculture Biologist and it was there that I had the opportunity to visit and inspect most of the vineyards in the county.  At the same time I had the good fortune to meet Nello and Danica Olivo who were interested in planting a vineyard on their property in Cameron Park.  There, we developed the vineyard.  Great care and planning went into the project, including soil preparation, layout, proper trellising, irrigation, and choosing the right rootstock and varieties for the site. The vineyard was planted in 2002, and with great care, it has come into fruition producing very high quality fruit, which is necessary in making the best wine possible from that site. 

I look forward to continue working with the Olivo's as they too share my passion for grape growing and making excellent wine.

I have been blessed all along my journey and one observation that I have made time and time again is that most all grape growers and winemakers are good people.  They are almost always eager to share their passion and what they know with anyone who is interested.  As a group, it is hard to find a nicer bunch of folks.

It is indeed a pleasure to care for and be a custodian of what the good Lord provides for us.

 If you love what you do, then it's not work!

Lance Johnson


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!

Find Nello Olivo on Facebook

Where is Nello Olivo Wine - How to earn a bottle of your favorite wine.

Style Magazine Reader's Choice Award 2012

Favorite Winery
Favorite Wine Bar
Favorite Best Kept Secret
Favorite Business Person - 
Nello Olivo