|Alabamians, avert your eyes. Photo: Hahn Family Winery|
Pursuant to the state's administrative code, the Alabama Beverage Control Board ordered Hahn Family Wines to remove its Cycles Gladiator wines from shelves throughout the state, calling its label "immodest." According to Hahn president Bill Legion, a small state board in Alabama rejected the artwork last year, but the ruling did not catch Legion's eye. His apparent defiance of the state's decision -- he claims the paperwork "fell through the cracks" -- led to the ban.
"It's turned out to be a great thing for us," laughs Legion, who says he's received calls of support from oenophiles around the world.
The bottle's eyebrow-raising label was designed in homage to a classic 1890s print ad featuring a lithe, long-haired cyclist clinging to a bicycle shuttling through a starry sky. The belle époque illustration has since become a popular poster, affixed to bike-shop bulletin boards and wannabe road racers' walls.
"It's one of the most sought-after images in the world," Legion says. "I'd seen it many times over the years and filed it in the back of my mind to use as a wine brand."
Hahn has been selling the wine -- with its signature bicycling-in-the-buff label -- in Alabama since 2006. "Part of the great shock was [that] we'd been shipping without any problem for three years," Legion says.
According to Title 20 of Alabama's administrative code, "No advertisement may include any illustration(s) of any person(s) consuming alcoholic beverages or any person(s) posed in an immodest or sensuous manner."
The Alabama Beverage Control Board did not return a call seeking comment.
Legion reports he briefly considered modifying the label to meet Alabama's standards, but quickly decided against it. Rather than wrap his booted bottles in plain brown paper, he's planning to ship them to what he jokingly calls "the liberal state of Georgia."
"It's not pornography," he insists. "This is a beautiful piece of art. I actually have prototypes that would put clothes on her, but that's like putting arms on the Venus de Milo."