The Herzegovinian region is often called the “California of Bosnia and Herzegovina” due to its rich variety of fruits. Its climate is ideal for the growing of grapes, figs, peaches, mandarins, apples, pomegranates, as well as olive trees. This climate also offers ideal conditions for the cultivation of grape wines such that Herzegovina has become the large producer of grapes and the only one in Bosnia and Herzegovina. It is often referred to as “the land of wine”.
To enjoy this environment, you will always find welcome to visit cellars to explore the treasures of the Blatina and Zilavka wines. The advantages of the chalk ground in the production of wines can then be readily appreciated. This way you can give yourselves time to enjoy these wines as they should be drunk. Indeed, the local phrase to drink wine as if it were water is disadvantageous to the pleasure of wine.
The two features that contributed to the quality wine are well known. Wine has been produced in a region for 3000 years also, it is remarkable that these wines come from a quite limited region along the Neretva river, specifically from the area that runs from the Mostar valley through to Vid and Norin in Croatia. The Neretva river has an unusually rapid flow, it is deep emerald green in colour and picturesque. Just as the Neretva River is special so are unique the wines from Herzegovina. The vineyard complex known as the Mostar vineyards ringed places such as Bijelo polje – Domanovići – Stolac – Čapljina – Ljubuški – Međugorje. This is only to be expected as it is reputed, Mostar is the jewel of the crown of Mediterranean in its natural beauty, its spellbinding stone bridges and its cosmopolitan hospitable population. The Hungarian writer Béla Hamvas suggested in his book on “Philosophy of Wine” that people can be both wine or brandy-loving” peoples. Without question, we may say that the people from Herzegovina fall into the wine-loving category. The first are called “vindžija” and the second “rakiđija”. The customary style of drinking in the “ vindzija” and “rakidzija” are reflected in these two types. The “Vindzija” drinks leisurely and calmly whereas the “rakidzija” chooses the shot style of drinking.
It is chronicled that the settlers and invaders, whether the Romans, people from Dubrovnik, the Slavs, the Turks or Habsburgs were all drawn to the region amongst other reasons for vineyards. Vineyards have been mentioned and documented in the writings of the many rulers and dignitaries, for example, the Roman emperor Constantine VII Porphyrogenitus, in the “charter of Prince Miroslav of Hum” and by Bosnian ban (King Tvrtko). The Turkish travel writer Evliyâ Çelebi extolls the virtues of the “thousands of Jannat (heavenly) vineyards in the vicinity of Mostar”. French and Venetian chroniclers, from the 16th and 17th centuries, mention that “they tried some excellent, though rather pricy, Mostarian wines.
The most renowned still grape varieties in Herzegovinian are: the Blatina, a red wine, and the Žilavka, a white wine. The Blatina is a dark almost black in colour, yet clear as crystal wine. It’s deep, very dark colour could be the reason why the red wine is locally referred and labelled as “black wine” unlike the globally generic term – red wine. The Blatina wine is anecdotally known as a ‘wine of love’. Some poets likened it to a young girl who blossoms into a beautiful woman. It has been known for the ripe fruits that are flooding the ground under its weight though this fortunate harvests could follow the periods of barren years.
The Žilavka Mostar wine is called the liquid gold, it’s a masculine wine in character, bursting with strength and passion. It’s taste cuts through with a precision of a sword or a machete. Žilavka wine is like a love song, (locally called sevdalinka), a song of desires and heartbreaks. It draws the strength from the local stone which is carved in the veins of Herzegovinian’s landscape. A very beautiful description of the Zilavka wine is given in the novel Omer Pasha Latas by the Yugoslav Nobel prize winner for literature …” a precious wine of a hard, dry, blessed region, as if one drinks laughter and the song itself, and after the third glass one greets the world around him only with laughter and song.” Žilavka wine is indeed a “laughter and a song” and at times also a wine of sorrow and disappointments. Oenologists recorded that Bosnian ban Tvrtko (the ban is a high aristocratic title) and his entourage had drunk this very wine in 1353 in Herzegovina.
Well-known agronomists nurtured and cultivated Herzegovinian vineyards by planting extensive land with Žilavka wine in the wastelands near Čitluk. Water is brought from the Neretva river by a system of powerful pumps and distributed to each wine by the network of narrow pipes. These vineyards are named Kameni vineyards (from the local word “kamen” which means stone) producing the well-known “Kameno wine”. Many family small-holdings offer wine tasting featuring their top wines and great local produce. Here, you can enjoy the simplicity of rural life in its natural setting covering an area of 30km based on a half-day or a full-day excursion.
The well-known wineries in western Herzegovina are: Andrija Podrumi, Winery Ostojic Winery Jure Susac, Winery Nuic, Winery Dodig, Winery Zadro, Winery Sivric, Winery Marijanovic, Winery Citluk, Winery Rubis etc.
The well-known wineries in eastern Herzegovina are: Winery Zadro, Monastery Tvrdos, Winery Vukoja, Winery Andelic etc.
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