The wines were not banned because of unclothed females cavorting across their labels (as in the news of late), but because their alcohol levels exceeded those allowed by the state at the time.
Big Bob Gibson has been a mainstay for barbecue aficionados across the northern tier of Alabama since 1925. Big Bob's is now in the hands of great-grandson Chris Lilly, who serves as vice president of the company and head chef for the award-winning Big Bob Gibson's Barbeque Competition Cooking Team. Lilly regularly appears on Food Network and the Today Show and has been featured in numerous periodicals and newspapers.
Like Lilly, Pete Seghesio is the fourth generation involved in the family business, Seghesio Family Vineyards, where he serves as C.E.O. and winegrower. According to Seghesio, his wines are back in Bama having survived two prohibitions.
The first was in 1919, when his great-grandfather Edoardo purchased Italian Swiss Colony Winery and 1,100 acres in Sonoma just six months prior to the enactment of Prohibition.
The second was last year, when the Alabama Beverage Control Board pulled all wines in the state whose alcohol by volume exceeded 14.9 percent.
That percentage has since been changed to 16.9, thus allowing Seghesio and other zinfandel producers to once again ship wine to Alabama.
Seghesio Family Vineyards has grown zinfandel since its founding in 1895. Previously known for bulk production, the family now concentrates on making small-lot, site-specific wines from family-owned vineyards.
Because the family owns the vineyards, the Seghesios have the luxury of tending 90-year-old zinfandel vines that yield small quantities of grapes of concentrated intensity. Such meticulously tended fruit, left hanging to reach ultimate levels of ripe sugariness, produces wines of greater alcohol by volume than other table wines. Seghesio zinfandels, whose alcohol levels approach 16 percent, nonetheless remain deliciously drinkable and smooth.
If looking for perfect wines to take you into fall and to tailgate barbecues, consider these:
Seghesio Family Vineyard Pinot Grigio 2008 Russian River Valley. Though better known for reds, this Seghesio is a fine offering of pinot grigio, unlike some tongue-twistingly dry pinot grigio made by other producers. A good sipping wine for an aperitif, but also good with shellfish, like the bacon-wrapped barbecued shrimp prepared by Lilly. $17.25 at Tyson Art and Frame in Golden Springs.
Seghesio Barbera Sonoma 2007. Barbera is a red grape from the Piedmont region of Italy. Seghesio's founder always reserved a vineyard for varieties from his Italian homeland. A subtle red wine. Paired nicely with Big Bob's sliders with their famous white barbecue sauce. $28 range. Ask your favorite wine merchant to order.
Seghesio Zinfandel Sonoma 2008. Wonderfully aromatic with hints of grandmother's homemade blackberry jam. Pair with anything barbecued. $22 at the Wine Cellar on Quintard.
Seghesio Zinfandel Home Ranch 2007. Made with fruit sourced from vineyards planted by Edoardo Seghesio in 1895. Winemaker Ted Seghesio has called this wine "best vintage to date." $35.25 at Tyson Art and Frame.
Seghesio Zinfandel Rockpile 2007. As I tasted these wines in order listed, they seemed to build in intensity, culminating with this one. Rockpile is the name of a narrow ridge some 1,200 feet above Dry Creek Valley in Sonoma — a great spot for growing intensely flavored zinfandel. $35.75 at Tyson Art and Frame.