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When there is a quality, there is always a demand larger than quantity. Bosnia and Herzegovina is, compared to some other wine producing countries, a country which is producing a relatively small quantity of wine.
Precisely because of the slightly produced quantities and little or no marketing that could match the world’s wine giants, Herzegovinian wines are only now slowly but steadily gaining the recognition while satisfying even the most refined palates of world wide known sommeliers.
However, if you want to follow the history paths, rest assured you will find a complex puzzle of various periods complimenting this region as one of the Balkans pearls when it comes to wine production.
“Nella botte piccola c’è il vino buono” -Good wine always comes in the small barrel
Despite the insignificant production compared to the rest of the world, Herzegovinian wine managed to reach the worlds’ best sommeliers and wine connoisseurs who discovered the rounded and complex flavour wines tamed from the wildness of Herzegovinian soil, stone and sun.
Wine production in Bosnia and Herzegovina dates back to the Illyrian period and the Thracians who introduced grapevine seedlings to the Balkans. Later on, during the medieval period the country was known as a distinguished vine-growing and wine producing region. Having your own vineyard throughout the Middle Ages was, we can say, a symbol of aristocracy which is evident from the records dating back to the 15th and 16th century.
After the middle ages, with the arrival of the Ottomans, wine production of Bosnia and Herzegovina has been significantly decreased. Despite the attempts of going back on the track at the end of the 19th century with the first wine exports to the Western Europe and making wine production a significant source of income in Herzegovina, the recent 92-95 war has resulted with almost complete disappearance of the grapevine.
This is mostly due to the fact the grapevine and wine production require a high level of human engagement and maintenance which, having in mind the country was dealing with the events of catastrophic proportions, was impossible to obtain.
Despite its ups and downs, wine production in Herzegovina is nowadays recognised as a lifestyle and one of the most important agricultural branches of the region and country. Herzegovina Wine Route is, nowadays, a story of more than 40 families involved into a devoted wine producing business.
With their thousand acres of productive vineyards, indigenous grape varieties of Zilavka and Blatina and cooperating sun manifesting its utmost strength, wine makers are successfully representing the region with a successful tendency of capturing the recognisable wine flavours.
Besides the fact that Herzegovina is often called Bosnian California and that is a perfect haven for vine growing and wine production itself, one of the top secrets of Herzegovinian wine is actually also a reason it is producing lower quantities.
The steep learning curve of wine history can be explained by the fact that wine production is most often carried out by families who do not actually have a direct intention to compete with the rest of the world. With a very little or no marketing at all, main focus is striving for the perfect symphony of fruit, sugar, alcohol, acid, and tannin giving a unique structure and flavour profile to their wines.
In 1999, on account of many Herzegovinian families, the country entered a modern wine renaissance and introduced the world with different and obscure grape sorts and wine tastes. This made the world to start flirting with the “so far unknown flavours” and Herzegovinian wines rapidly started flowing off the loading docks.
Here begins the story of as many as 40 families who found their way in the Herzegovinian karst to match the quality of the world’s finest wines while leaving the competing in quantity for some future times. Following the tradition, but with the help of modern technology, each of the family businesses strives to create their own unique and recognisable flavours.
Funky Team has chosen 7 wine producers that are simply a must for all of you wine enthusiasts when in the Herzegovina region. However, feel free to wander the Herzegovina Wine Route on your own discovering some small hidden gems and welcoming local wine experts. If coming on your own, make sure to contact your hosts and announce your visit.
No matter if you are oneophile, wine enthusiast or a simple fan of serene but hedonistic environments, you will love the elaborate wine tastings in centuries old wine cellars, luxury accommodations in a complete rural settings, amazing dining experiences, and the world of pristine nature accompanied by unique outdoor possibilities.
As the largest winery in BiH, with a processing capacity of 110,000 hl, Čitluk Winery has over 300 ha of its own vineyards. They are mostly growing the indigenous sorts Žilavka and Blatina, but in recent years they did enhance their vineyeards with plantations of two world famous varieties Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon.
Now here comes an incredible fact. Winery Citluk is the owner of so called “stone vineyards” which are absolutely unique in the world. The stone vineyards best illustrate how human intervention can turn a scarce land into a fertile oasis, and the rocky desert into an oasis of abundance and beauty.
The amount of soil at this site is negligible as limestone makes up 70% of the substrate. The classic methods of cultivating the land for vineyards have been replaced by powerful machines, rippers and bulldozers, and by applying modern methods.The grapes are wrapped with modern equipment in the Čitluk Winery and controlled fermentation produces top-quality dry white wine.
Assuming that wines largely depend on the character of the ambience – in this case the stone on which the grapes were produced, the producer came up with the idea to name their most popular wine: Kameno Vino (Eng. Stone Wine) which is produced and many times awarded since 1990.
Nested in a small village of Služanj, in municipality of Čitluk, a dreamy setting with the most hospitable people you will ever encounter found its haven for producing some of the finest wine flavours you will taste. Wine production has been a family business for years. Remember the stone vineyards from Čitluk Winery? Drago Marijanović, the founder of the Marijanović winery, was the most important person during its construction.
Besides treating your palates with some of the finest of Žilavka, Blatina, Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon, rest assured you will have a chance to participate in some thought-provoking intellectual conversations and lectures. Add this to a complete serene setting, the fact this is the only winery entirely embraced by vast vineyard labyrinths, a charming wine cellar right in the middle of it, and you get a small hedonistic heaven.
The family wine cellar is known for various types of wine, liqueurs and brandies, but what brought them great fame was the famous black coupage 33 made of 33% Blatina, 33% Cabernet Sauvignon and 33% Syrah. One of the most complex blends when it comes to local wines.
This charming family wine cellar is located in the vicinity of Čitluk and is the bearer of an incredible family story and tradition. The legend says that the last name of Ostojić family was first mentioned back in 1398, coming from King Stjepan Ostoja, a famous ruler of Bosnia and 14th century. Whether this is true or not, this charming winery with its incredible setting and amazingly elegant wine aromas, is surely a place not to be missed.
In addition to being able to enjoy the taste of royal wines, the family offers accommodation just in the centre of vineyards, and a beautiful courtyard with a swimming pool. Just imagine a glass of wine in a beautiful and serene setting and mesmerising lush greenery while embraced by the Herzegovinian sun.
Emphasizing his surname, Vlado Ostojić practically reminds us of the incredible history of medieval Bosnia. The family produce Žilavka named after the first wife of King Stjepan Ostoja Vitača (Vitača Ostojić), Merlot named after Stjepan Ostoja’s second wife – Kujava (Kujava Ostojić), Blatina named after the son of Stjepan Ostoja and Kujava Ostoja (Stjepan Ostojić), Vranac named after half-brother of Stjepan Ostoja (Radivoj Ostojić). And at the very end, Cuvee was named after Stjepan Ostoja himself.
Tvrdoš Monastery is a Serbian Orthodox monastery near Trebinje dating back from 15th century. The monastery was a seat of the Metropolitans of Herzegovina until the Venetian Empire destroyed it in 1694. The current monastery building was constructed in 1924.
Today, besides for its strong historical, religious and cultural significance, the monastery is renowned for its boundless vineyards, wine production and wine cellars. Amazingly hospitable people will provide an absolutely free of charge tour and a great insight into the fascinating history of monastery itself and stunning wine cellars one of which dates back to 15th century. Just imagine the atmosphere of vibrant interiors, centuries old wood and book smells while snuggling yourself with a glass of superior wine and being grasped by dense vineyards and hundreds of years old olive trees. Wine tasting prices are symbolic and affordable for everyone.
Nowadays, although cheerful monks are gladly participating in every part of the wine production, monastery is also hiring the people from nearby areas and supporting the local economy significantly. Monastery is entirely self financing from wine production and other organic products such as jams, rakijas, olives etc. so any small purchase is more than a welcome.
Besides being pioneers and producing their amazing wines ever since 1979, the family is known for being the only biodynamic wine producers in the region. The idea of “Brkić Wine” is to produce the wine in a completely natural way which awarded them with the recognition of world wide known sommeliers.
Most popular wine of Brkić family is their “Mjesečar” (Eng. “Moonwalker”) which is made in a completely biodynamic way, from 100% “Žilavka” wine grape and by following the Moon phases. This type of wine is being always stored in a new barrel made from the Bosnian oak. Meeting this charming family, soaking up their knowledge, absolute devotion and passion will make you not only admire the incredible wine flavours but also appreciating all the hard work of small producers.
In a complete serene interior you will have a chance to try some of their best wines including a famous biodynamic wine “Mjesečar” (Eng. Moonwalker), have a chat with generations of this family, feel their incredible energy and experience a completely new tastes of Zilavka and Blatina, which you haven’t thought existed so far.
In the very heart of the famous and completely magical Stolac there is a Cooperative and Winery named Daorson. The wines of this winery are named after Pinnes, an Illyrian leader whose helmet was found at the Daorson archeological site.
Daorson was created by gathering true lovers of wine and viticulture within the wine and wine cooperative, the first of its kind in Bosnia and Herzegovina. It is a combination of modern and traditional, persistence and experience, created under the auspices of the “Project for the protection and valorisation of agricultural and traditional products of value to Herzegovina”, funded by the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and implemented by the Italian NGO CEFA. This winery gathers and promotes the small vineyards in Herzegovina region and producing exclusively indigenous varieties of Blatina (Pinnes Blatina) and Žilavka (Pinnes Žilavka).
Winery and Cooperative Daorson, in addition to the beautiful wine cellar and wine tasting chamber, has also in its possession a bar where you can enjoy the finest flavours of Stolac wine and brandies until late at night. It is all about enjoyment, friendly atmosphere and a pure hedonism here.
“Podrumi Vukoje 1982″ has been engaged in limited production of top-quality wines and alcoholic beverages for decades. The cellars of Vukoje have 30 hectares of their own vineyards in two localities where autochthonous and international grape varieties are planted.
In addition to the winery, there is also the absolutely unique Vukoje Wine Gallery, which will leave you breathless. Vukoje Wine Gallery is located on the fifth, sixth and seventh floors of the winery and offers visitors a unique panoramic view of the city of Trebinje and its vineyards. “Vinogradareva kuća” is located in the middle of the Imperial vineyards of Žilavka grape and it was built by the Austro-Hungarian monarchy in 1894. This is a place where you can escape the notorious Herzegovinian heat and refresh in the rivers Trebišnjica and Sušica.
This small, family owned, winery is located 3o kms from Trebinje and is the bearer of an interesting story. Apart from the fact that it is known for growing the autochthonous varieties of wine Žilavka i Blatina, the most famous product of this winery is the “Maksuzija” rakija-brandy often enjoyed by locals.
Today, the winery produces around 20,000 l of wine and have no current intention to expand its production in closer future. Starting from a scratch, the Anđušić family has reached an enviable level today and has become one of the most famous wineries in Herzegovina. Tucked away between the two centres, Mostar and Trebinje, the Anđušić winery will, in addition to top quality wines for every gourmet, also offer apartment accommodation within the facility.
Despite having almost no marketing at all and you can not simply visit their website as there is none, this winery is known as one of the most charming hidden gems and one of the favourites among the locals. It gained its reputation thanks to its cozy environment and tasty and budget friendly wines and “Maksuzija” rakija.