The Wines of Herzegovina / The Wines of Trebinje
Herzegovina is one of the world’s most productive regions in terms of wine. Famous for its white wine Zilavka and red wine Vranac.
Most known wineries in Trebinje, Bosnia & Herzegovina There’s no family business like the wine business in Trebinje.
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Here, wine production has a long history which was often interrupted by various historic and cultural events. For example, numerous wars and crises occurred with the arrival of Turkish culture to this area, which banned wine production or forbade the consumption of wine in public.
Regardless of these interruptions, people have a long tradition of wine making in the region of Herzegovina. After the last war, the commercialization of wine in this area has sky rocketed thanks to the area’s natural preconditions for winemaking, such as the specificity of Herzegovinian karst soil and sun. Today in Trebinje, there are about 20 registered commercial wineries. I will enumerate on a few large and several small wineries that have made a significant step forward when it comes to wine tourism.
Grapes & Wine
“There are two varieties of grapevines that have marked the history and success of winemaking in eastern Herzegovina: the indigenous Žilavka, which is used for making white wine of harmonious and full flavor, such that it had deserved a place of honor on the dining table of the Austrian Emperor. Then, there is Vranac used for making the ruby red wine with purple overtones, which has an intense flavor and rich aroma (from cinnamon to licorice and from strawberry to oak) and which came from Macedonia and Montenegro only to find its unsurpassed natural environment in Herzegovina.”
It is not easy to discover the origin of this wine’s name, which is said to refer to the thin fibers visible on the grapes in the period of full maturity. What is certain is that the word Žilavka is often preceded by the attribute “Herzegovina”, to put an emphasis on the territory where this special and old variety of grapes is grown. The hard ground is also associated with the origin of its name, which means “tough”.
This resistant vine, which thrives on the scorched soil and rock fields, has a flavor that is reminiscent of the great and heroic white wines from the south. Its yellow-green glow, the harmonious alcohol-acidity ratio, and its intense fruit aroma of apricots and yellow plums distinguish this white wine from other similar wines. Often refined with a small portions Chardonnay or Ben, this is a wine that improves with age; it goes well with cooked or roasted mutton or lamb, trout and mature cheeses. It is served cold, between 10° and 12°.
This grapevine variety was introduced into the area of south Herzegovina, or more precisely, the area of Trebinje, during the era of Austro-Hungarian Empire and the origin of its name clearly indicates the characteristics of the wine. The word “vran” means black and is used in the South Slavic languages to indicate red wine (red wines here are referred to as “black wines”). The name “Vranac” which means “black horse” was deliberately given to this wine to indicate the red grapes, but above all to highlight the strength, the power and intensity of this wine whose flavor is hard to classify.
It has an intense red color with purple reflections, and when allowed to age for a few years, it smells like a big bouquet, full of different scents, while the flavor varies from cinnamon to licorice, and from red fruits to the overtone of oak. It is recommended not to drink it immediately after opening, but to open a bottle long before serving, because the more it comes into contact with oxygen, the more it softens and refines.