Best-selling ‘Hitler wine’ to be scrapped by controversial vineyard’s new owner

A bestselling Italian wine featuring labels depicting dictators like Hitler is being scrapped as the vineyard where the grapes were grown prepares to be taken over by new owners.

The Vini Lunardelli vineyard began selling the unusual wine in 1995 and after a wave of outrage, sales went through the roof thanks to the publicity.

Owner Alessandro Lunardelli said the idea stemmed from a rather unusual customer request for a bottle with Mussolini's picture on it.

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Mr Lunardelli claimed at the time that the wine was made with grapes from a vineyard once owned by Yugoslavian dictator Josip Broz Tito.

Like the Mussolini wine the decision to add Hitler also came from a customer request when a bar owner in the northern city of Bolzano requested wine bearing Hitler's image.

Mr Lunardelli said the labels carrying phrases such as "Sieg Heil" ("Hail (To) Victory") and "Ein Volk, ein Reich, ein Fuehrer" ("One People, One Realm, One Leader") were made for the German market.

Despite it's popularity Mr Lunardelli was sued in Italy over his Mussolini wine but escaped fines and jail because authorities said it could not be proven that he was promoting fascism.

Mr Lunardelli rejects any allegations that he is promoting fascism and Nazism and points out he also offers bottles with pictures of Marx, Stalin, Lenin and Che Guevara.

"It's strange that Stalin murdered 15 million people, but there is no fuss about the bottle. And for the labels with Hitler and Mussolini I ended up in court," said Mr Lunardelli.

On its website, the firm says the labels "remind us of the lives of celebrated personages of Italian and world political history such as Che Guevara, Churchill… Hitler, Marx, Mussolini, Napoleon."

"Getting sued was the best thing that could have happened," Mr Lunardelli said at the time in a telephone interview with Central European News from his company's headquarters near Udine on Italy's border with Austria.

He added that officials should understand the line is purely a commercial enterprise that was not designed to make any political statement or endorse the policies of any leaders featured, on the right or left.

Over the last 27 years the wine was been widely popular in far-right circles and with supporters of the European dictators.

News that it the wines are to be discontinued from next year was announced by Mr Lunardelli's son Andrea, who was also accused alongside his father in the court case over the wine, which they eventually won.

But he said that after he takes over running the vineyard next year, in 2023, he will discontinue production as he did not like it and was fed up with the constant controversy.

He said that anyone who bought Hitler wine was simply "a collector, or remembers history, or wants nationalism against the current policies of multinationals – not against Jews.”

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