In its heyday, Baby Duck was a very successful product. It is a sweet, fuzzy wine modeled after Mateus, the popular wine of Portugal.
In 1952, Brights Wines purchased the Fred Marsh Wine Company. At this time, the Fred Marsh winery was working on developing a sweet sparkling wine. It was introduced to the market as Brights Winette. They used Labrusca grapes which could be obtained rather cheaply. This allowed Brights Winette to be sold at a low price.
Brights Winette -Photo credit Patti Petty
Brights had control of the Sparkling wine market until Andrew Peller of Peller Estate Winery decided to enter this market, creating a line of Chanté wines. In 1971, they created Baby Duck, a soft-drink-sweet blend of red and white Chanté wines.
Hugely successful, Baby Duck was the best-selling domestic wine during the 1970s and it hatched numerous imitators: Canada Duck, Love-A-Duck, Kool Duck, Daddy Duck and Fuddle Duck were joined by Cold Turkey, etc… All of these wines driving the runaway expansion in the wine trade in the 1960s and 1970s were concocted from water, sugar and grapes that were judged unsuitable for making good quality dry table wines.
Baby Duck peaked in 1973, selling over 8 million bottles. Many people believe its popularity had to do with its easy-to-pronounce name. Baby Duck was originally made from “musky” native labrusca varieties such as concord and bath - and Andrés simply couldn't get enough of them. As well as encouraging local grape growers to plant more of these high-yielding and hardy varieties, B.C. wineries were obliged to import grapes and
inexpensive finished wines from California.
Andrés still produces Baby Duck with 7% alcohol In 1980, Andrés downgraded it from Wine to A Refreshment drink.
~ Guy Baldwin winemaker at Andrés wines in Port Moody. He helped create in 1966 Chanté a predecessor of Baby Duck
Ben Ginter bought Caribou Brewing Company in Prince George. He
renamed it Tartan Industry Ltd. In 1970 he took over a nearly
bankrupt Mission Hills Winery changing the name to Uncle Ben's
Gourmet WInes Ltd. Trying to compete with Baby Duck he came up
with Fuddle Duck and weird name wines.
~ In 1975, there were 3315 imported wines in Canada and only 1875 domestic products.
~ In 1975, the big four Wine producers were Andrés, Brights Château Gai and Jordon.
Moody Blue was launched in August 1974 by Andrés and was named for the band... Moody Blues.
For more information on the history of Canada's wine industry click here
~ Oh that Hochtaler
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Robert A Bell