Winemaker - Paraduxx
As the winemaker for Paraduxx, Don LaBorde is committed to the idea that the Napa Valley is capable of producing exceptional contemporary blends that showcase a uniquely Californian personality. Don combines his mastery of multiple grape varieties, winemaking experience spanning two continents, and a love of blending to make wines acclaimed for their stature and sophistication.
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Though born and raised in Louisiana, Don gained an international perspective on winemaking by earning his wine science degree from Australia’s Charles Sturt University—one of the world’s most respected viticulture and enology schools. At Charles Sturt, Don was selected for the prestigious assistant research winemaker position at Australia’s National Wine and Grape Industry Center, where he honed his skills with multiple grape varieties.
Don’s experience working across the varietal spectrum continued at Napa Valley’s Trefethen Family Vineyards, where Don was the enologist. At Trefethen, Don worked with all five red Bordeaux grapes, as well as Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Working with Trefethen’s Bordeaux varieties, Don developed a barrel-by-barrel approach to blending. Don further refined his approach to blending when he became the assistant winemaker at Francis Coppola Winery, in 2008, where he supervised winemaking activities at multiple facilities. “Like Duckhorn Wine Company, Coppola offered the rare opportunity to work alongside several great winemakers,” says Don. “I gained invaluable experience that allowed me to fine-tune a small-lot approach to achieving small-lot quality.”
Don joined Duckhorn Wine Company in 2011 as the associate winemaker for Sonoma County, overseeing Decoy. Recognized for his exceptional palate and his phenomenal ability to work with an array of varieties, Don was soon named the winemaker for Decoy, where he played a key role in establishing it as one of the modern wine industry’s great success stories.
In 2014, in recognition of his skill as a winemaker, and his masterful blending ability, Don was named the winemaker for Paraduxx. “Paraduxx is a winemaker’s dream,” says Don. “Working with legendary Napa Valley growers and our own phenomenal Estate Vineyards, I get to work with the finest fruit in the world, and make wines that are not limited to specific grape varieties, or varietal percentages. We create our own benchmarks at Paraduxx. This gives us remarkable freedom to create iconic and compelling blends that capture the rich diversity of Napa Valley.”
THE ART OF THE BLEND
Fusing the grandeur of Cabernet Sauvignon with the robust flavors of California's native Zinfandel, Paraduxx's premiere bottling embraced the best of both core varietals to produce a world-class blend with a decidedly Californian personality. With a nod to the great blends of the world-from the Super Tuscan wines of Italy to the Shiraz-Cabernet Sauvignon blends of Australia-this wine became Paraduxx's flagship bottling. It also became a template for future blends, creating a philosophy to guide Paraduxx's exploration of the union of different varietals. This philosophy can be seen across the Paraduxx portfolio, where every blend features at least one non-Bordeaux varietal. Stylistically, winemaker Don LaBorde strives to create blends that capture the essence of their Napa Valley terroir - wines that are inherently ripe, robust and compelling, but that are also impeccably balanced, with the depth, complexity and acidity to complement great modern cuisine.
Dedicated to attaining new benchmarks for blends in California, Don combines consummate Napa viticulture with a vibrant approach to winemaking. Understanding that each vineyard block is as one-of-a-kind as a fingerprint, Don harvests and barrel ages each lot of fruit separately. These lots come from four acclaimed estate vineyards (Rector Creek, Monitor Ledge, Stout and Candlestick Ridge), as well as a selection of fruit from some of the finest growers in the Napa Valley. Reflecting the rich diversity of the Paraduxx portfolio, grapes come from an array of mountain and valley floor vineyards in some of the Napa Valley's most acclaimed sub-appellations (including Calistoga, Rutherford, St. Helena, Howell Mountain Yountville and Pope Valley).
To preserve the distinctiveness of this sought-after fruit, Don does as many as 50-60 individual fermentations in a given vintage (some as small as two barrels). As part of the Paraduxx winemaking program, Don utilizes upwards of 15 different coopers to age the 10 or more varietals he works with each growing season.