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Don LaBorde has joined ETS Laboratories as the company's first director of industry relations

by Kerana Todorov
September 27, 2019
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Winemaker Don LaBorde has joined ETS Laboratories as the company’s first director of industry relations.

In his new role, LaBorde, a former winemaker at Duckhorn Wine Company’s Paraduxx in the Napa Valley, works with ETS clients to discuss any harvest or winemaking issues. In his new position, LaBorde also collaborates with ETS research scientists Eric Hervé and Rich DeScenzo on various projects.

“Don can talk to our winemaker customers as a peer who understands the daily challenges they may face,” said Gordon Burns, president of ETS Laboratories. “He is the perfect liaison between the customer and the technical team at the lab.”

Since getting on board in July, LaBorde, 42, also has come up to speed with ETS’ research projects.

The company is testing berry samples from various vineyards to build a database of naturally occurring compounds at various sites. These compounds also happen to be markers for smoke taint in the laboratory.

ETS’ database will be a baseline to evaluate potential smoke exposure from wildfires.

ETS’ new resources include a Bruker NMR FoodScreener, a machine that generates unique wine fingerprints to detect counterfeits, mislabeling or “quality deviations,” according to the laboratory’s harvest catalogue.

One of LaBorde’s tasks is helping build a database to profile varieties in North American wine appellations.

Such databases already exist in Europe and Chile, LaBorde said.

LaBorde, who is originally from Lake Charles, La., earned an undergraduate degree in wine science from Charles Sturt University in Australia. He then worked as an enologist at Trefethen Family Vineyards in the Napa Valley and as assistant winemaker at Francis Ford Coppola Winery. He subsequently joined Duckhorn Wine Company, first at Decoy and later at Paraduxx.

Gordon and Marjorie Burns established ETS in 1978 in their home basement in St. Helena. ETS now has laboratories in St. Helena, Paso Robles, Healdsburg, Walla Walla, Wash., and Newberg, Ore.

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