Bosnia and Herzegovina

Bosnia and Herzegovina

“White Barolo”Timorasso. Tortona. Derthona. Colli Tortonesi.Confused? Read on…

The Wines of Bosnia & Herzegovina

While the Romans introduced wines to Bosnia & Herzegovina (BIH) over 2000 years ago, centuries of Ottoman rule, 2 World Wars, Yugoslavia’s cooperative bulk production and the Bosnian war of the 1990s all delayed the development of a modern wine industry.

Foreign investment (money and expertise) in the last few decades have seen modern winemaking techniques introduced, and the last decade, an increase in fresh, modern wine. There is also a strong focus on the native grape varieties rarely found outside of the country.

Domestic wine consumption is some of the lowest in Europe, however this is growing, and some top producers cannot increase production fast enough to fulfil domestic demand, while ex-pats abroad have established an export market, importing from their family and friends to the Europe & USA.

Although it is not always easy to find wines by the glass in the restaurants and bars, it is easy to understand the native grapes, wine styles and producers to look out for.


  • The main wine production lies in the south in the Herzegovina region, around the 5 towns of Čitluk, Ljubuški, Čapljina, Stolac & Trebinje (the “Herzegovina Wine Route”) – about 30-45 minutes drive away from Mostar.
  • There are over 4,000 Ha of vines in BIH (that’s less than 1/6th of New Zealand’s Marlborough winegrowing area).
  • Production is around 20M litres, including the main bulk ex-government industrial scale manufacturers.
  • Most wineries are small, family owned wineries established in the early 1990s following the breakup of Yugoslavia and the ability to own land and businesses.
  • The focus is on quality and grapes are often hand-picked and hand-sorted with rejected grapes being used to make brandy.
  • There are 2 main native grapes: Žilavka and Blatina with a minor 3rd: Trnjak that has been revived since 2015 and is found in premium single varietal wines.
  • A wine labelled as a single varietal wine must contain at least 85% of that grape. Trnjak is generally 100%.
Herzegovina Wine Route

History & key dates (in a nutshell)

0(ish) : the Romans introduce winemaking to the region.
1300s-1913 : Ottomans rule and winemaking is limited to household production.
1878-1918 : Austria rules and it is fashionable to make and drink wine again.
1918-1992 : Socialist “Yugoslavia” focuses on bulk, low-quality wine production while WW2 (1939-45) doesn’t help.
1992 : Independence. Land and business ownership are allowed and many family’s register their family wineries and begin to bottle and sell under their own labels.
 : war in Bosnia destroys lives, cities and businesses.
late ’90s : 15 French and 15 Italian oenologists are invited to BIH to share their knowledge of modern winemaking techniques. Fresher wines appear, vinified in stainless steel.
2000s : Fresher expressions of the native Žilavka wines gain popularity, Trnjak grape is revived and appears as a premium single varietal wine, and several annual festivals appear to celebrate Žilvka and Trnjak wines.
The future : Some orange wines have started to appear and amphora wines are planned. It will be interesting to see how BIH wines evolve with ever increasing quality & quantity as the next generation of young, internationally trained winemakers experiment with new styles.

Anecdotally, some wine buffs at the French embassy have claimed that BIH’s terroir is excellent, and superior to even Slovenia’s. BIH could very well be a country to keep an eye on for the future.

AI rendering of Archduke Ferdinand drinking red wine
AI rendering of Archduke Ferdinand drinking red wine

Fun Facts:

  • Franz Ferdinand is reported to have loved wines from BIH’s indigenous Blatina grape.
  • Up to the early 1900s parents would wait until they had several children before taking them to the town hall to register their births, many years after the eldest’s birth. As a result, birth dates were often estimated as days before / after grape harvest, or whether there was any wine remaining from the previous year.

The Grapes of Bosnia & Herzegovina

There are 3 main grape varieties native to BIH, plus 2 other minor players.

White  :  Žalivka, Bena, Krkošija
Red  :  Blatina & Trnjak

Žilavka : (aka Žilavke) the signature grape of BIH that is usually made as a single varietal wine (or can contain up to 15% of Bena and Krkošija which are only found in small quantities in blended wines)

Blatina : an easy drinking grape that has been compared to Pinot Noir and Zweigelt. With only female flowers, it cannot self-pollinate, and was co-planted with Trnjak to pollenate.

Trnjak : historically co-planted with Blatina for pollination, it was gradually replaced with Touriga Nacional and Alicante Bouchet. Since 2015 this has started appearing as premium single varietal wines – bold, structured and full bodied.

Others : Vranac is a regional grape found across several Balkan countries and is grown widely in Herzegovina. It produces rich, dark, full bodied wines.
Many other regional and international grapes can be found both as single varietal wines and in blends such as regional Grk, Malvazija, Pošip, Tamjanica, Plavac Mali and international Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Syrah and Touriga Nacional.

The Styles

  • Dry, refreshing white wines (Žilavka & other regional white grapes).
  • Complex, oak aged whites (Žilavka, Chardonnay)
  • Med-Full bodied reds from Blatina
  • Full bodied reds from Trnjak. Always premium quality, 100% Trnjak, and rarely available by the glass.
  • Full bodied reds from international varieties and blends (Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Syrah, Touriga Nacional).
  • Outliers (sparkling, orange wines, amphora wines from Žilavka).

Bosnian Oak

Although Bosnian oak barrels are local and affordable, they have proved to be structurally unreliable (some producers suspect that the wood used has not been sufficiently dried), and many producers are moving to French, Hungarian and Slavonian oak at 8-12x the price.

The Producers

The majority of the wine industry is in the south of the country in Herzegovina.

Many of the wineries are small, family run operations where all grapes are hand harvested and hand sorted before vinification.

The focus is very much on quality, especially with the low yielding Trnjak grape.
Grapes are often hand-picked and hand sorted. In the case of some wineries, they are even bottled by hand without any mechanical equipment.

Near Mostar :

There are 2 remaining wineries from the break-up of the government cooperative :
Hepok / Mostar : focused on bulk, affordable wines (bag in box etc) managing 300Ha and reportedly producing around 12 M bottles (although their website indicates closer to 7M)
Čitluk Winery (chit-look) : 100Ha, 50 wine labels and tasting room for 100 guests. Their premium Teuta Žilavka Selection and Trnjak are highly regarded, quality wines worth drinking.

Brkić (Bur-kitch) : a small, organic, artisan family winery with 4 Haof vines. Brkić is the oldest family winery, and the first biodynamic / natural winery in BIH. The cellar is now run by twin brothers while the father manages the vineyards. All wines are bottled gently by hand with no machinery / pumps used.
Check out: Mjeseċąr (“Moonwalker”) Žilavka – barrel fermented and aged on skins for 12 months.

Marianović (marianovitch): the first winery to plant Syrah in BIH and now run by 3rd Generation Josip Marianović, identified as one of the young winemakers to watch. Marianović winery produces modern, premium wines with a modest 2.5Ha of vines, buying in additional grapes to meet a growing domestic demand.
Check out: Marianović Rosé – the #1 best selling rosé in BIH with defined strawberry aromas and flavours.

Nuić (noo-itch): a relative newcomer and one of the largest family wineries. Nuic’s noticeable contribution is reviving the autochthonous Trnjak grape of which there are now over 20 producers.
Check out: Nuić Trnjak – an iconic wine in BIH as it was the first single varietal Trnjak. Close to an Italian Valpolicella in style and power.

Škegro Family Winery (Shke-grow) : small family winery with 3.5Ha of vines and 500 olive trees. Škegro were the first winery to produce an orange wine in BIH.
Check out: Krš Orange Žilavka – BIH’s first orange wine and featuring the winery’s founder Bareša Škegro.

Matić is also highly regarded, however we didn’t have the chance to visit. Their 2018 Trnjak could be a “Balkan Barolo”.

Near Trebinje :

Vukoje – considered the best winery in eastern Herzegovina, and hosts the annual Žilavka Salon.

Other wineries that are highly recommended (although unverified by Wine Fogg) are: Andelić, Tvrdoš, and Bojanic.

The Events

Sarajevo Wine Festival held annually in Sarajevo. Held on 8-9 February in 2024 on a Thursday & Friday from 17:00-22:00.
Approximately 50 wineries from around the Balkan countries attend, half of which from Bosnia & Herzegovina.

Herzegovina Wine Route Festival – a 2 day festival in July featuring 36 wineries + gastronomy and events.

Žilavka Salon held annually in August at Vukoje Winery in the south east of Herzegovina

Herzegowine – an annual wine festival held in May/June with many of the top producers showcasing their wines.

Trnjak Fest held annually in Ljibuški since 2023 featuring 24 producers (2024).

24 Hours in Bosnia



Morning coffee at Fabrika in the old market or Ministry of Cjef, then take a walk up to the Yellow Fortress for a panoramic view over Sarajevo.

Take a city tour with one of the many guides (we enjoyed Neno’s East Meets West tour).



Delikatesna Radnja for lunch with a glass of local wine, then drop by Petrakija for any wine tasting, or to pick up a few bottles for the trip.



Explore the sites around Sarajevo’s Old Market and/or take another walking tour focusing on the modern history of Sarajevo.



Aperitif at Dekanter before dinner at The Singing Nettle.

12 Hours in Herzegovina



Morning coffee at one of the Fabrika coffee shops, then visit one of the wineries around f Čitluk or Ljubuški (see options below and make an appointment).
Consider combining with a visit to the Koćuša Waterfall.



Bago Restaurant for a seafood lunch with a glass of local wine.



Visit another winery in Ćitluk on the return to Mostar.



Visit The Spirit of Herzegovina for a glass of wine with a view over the Stari Most before dinner in the old town (ask Mirna for recommendations) or further out at Gonzales for less local food, but a better selection of wines.

Featured Wine Store – Petrakija Wine & Life

Ervin Spahić - Petrakija Wine & Life

Ervin Spahić (in photo) manages Petrakija Wine & Life in Sarajevo; a boutique store focusing on small, local, independent family producers of wine.

Ervin is passionate about local artisanal produce and was invaluable in guiding me through the grapes and producers, cheeses, and introducing me to some excellent olive oils.

Any wine lover’s first stop in Sarajevo should be here. It’s a “who’s who” of BIH wines.
If you’re lucky, you may coincide with a wine tasting and experience a variety of grapes, styles and producers. Or organise a private tasting if you’re with a group.
Alternatively, buy a bottle or two to drink a few glasses in store and take the rest of the bottle home.

Featured Wine Bar – The Spirit of Herzegovina

Mirna Jelcic (in photo) manages a wine bar with one of the best views in the country – literally on the UNESCO Stari Most (Old Bridge) in Mostar.

The shop sells produce and handicrafts produced by women in Herzegovina, and Mirna’s passion for local produce and supporting local crafts is contagious.

You can buy bottles to take away, drink it, or glasses of wine to drink in the store. She also offers wine tastings and captivates the audience with her humour, stories and exuberant personality.

Click to view Instagram post & video

Restaurants, Wine bars & Wine Shops (non exhaustive):


Petrakija Wine & Life

3 Petrakijina, Sarajevo – map
IG : @petrakija FB :
Wine store with a focus on small, artisanal BIH wine and olive oil producers.
Occasional wine tastings. Buy a bottle to drink in, or call in advance to arrange or perhaps join a group tasting.
Manager Ervin Spahić is a DJ / Raggae Dub producer with a passion for the local wine and producers.


4 Radiceva, Sarajevo – map
IG : @dekanter_vinoteka

Wide selection of wines by the bottle and glass from BIH and abroad.
Not all those listed on the menu may be available.

The Singing Nettle

1 Petrakijina, Sarajevo – map
One of the few non-smoking restaurants in BIH.
Just around the corner from Petrakija, the menu features local cuisine including several nettle dishes and a selection of wines by the bottle from some of the top producers.

Delikatesna Radnja

10 Obala Kulina bana, Sarajevo – map
IG : @delikatesnaradnja2
A wine bar with adjoining delicatessen / restaurant.
A decent selection of local and international wines by the glass and bottle.

Travelling on a budget airline with hand luggage only?
Sarajevo Airport Duty Free has a selection of local wines including Tolj and Marijanović at reasonable (for an airport) prices.


Although Mostar was awarded the European Wine City 2024, much of the wine culture is found outside of the city.
Consider spending an evening in Ljubuški at Smokva wine club, with nearby Bago restaurant and Škegro Family Winery.

The Spirit of Herzegovina

Stari grad bb, Mostar – map
IG: @thespiritofherzegovinabyemica

Wine store also selling wine by the glass to drink-in, and wine tasting experiences.


91 Vokića i Lorkovića, Mostar – map

IG: @vinoteka.mostar

Wine store specialising in imported wines with a good selection of premium wines from BIH.

Gonzales Gastro Pub

23 Bleiburških žrtava, Mostar – map
IG: @gastropubgonzales

Gastropub with wide selection of local wines by the glass and bottle.

Smokva Wine Club

8 Vitinska, Ljubuški – map
IG : @smokva_wineclub

Possibly the best wine bar in Herzegovina with a regular changing menu of wines by the glass.

Bago Restaurant

R424 Teskera, Ljubuški – map

Seafood restaurant with a selection of local wines by the glass and bottle.
Non-smoking room available when the restaurant is not full.

“TABAK” Museum & Restaurant

18 Fra Nikole Ivankovića, Ljubuški – map
IG : @tabak_museum_restaurant

The restaurant (& museum) of the former tobacco factory. Recommended by several producers for their wine list.

Other restaurants in the region reported to have good wine options are:

Humsko, Trebinje – good selection of craft beers. IG: @restoran_humsko
Old Mill, Stolac. IG: @oldmill23_stolac
Old Town, Stolac. IG : @oldtownstolac
Bezdan21, Grude. IG : @bezdan21

Coffee & Craft Beer

Specialty Coffee Shops:

While coffee in BIH isn’t yet on a par with major European cities, the following cafés to boast “speciality coffee” and are some of the best options in town.

Fabrika – in the old market, outdoor seating only.
Ministry of Cejf , just outside the old market.
Caffe O’Clock  – one of the few venues with a non-smoking indoor area.
Fabrika Coffee II 

Fabrika Coffee – just outside the old town. IG @fabrika_coffeemostar
Fabrika coffee 2
Tecó – while not “speciality coffee”, it was a good option for breakfast

Craft Beer:

Craft Beer Garden Imaimoze – great selection of locally brewed craft beer.
Can be busy on weekend evenings.
Non-smoking indoors by the bar.


Sir Iz Mijeha

There are many types of cheese available in Bosnia & Herzegovina, many of which are typical of the Balkan region from fresh white cheese cut from squares in markets, to aged hard cheese pre-cut and sold in shrink-wrapped packaging.

One special cheese looking out for is Sir Iz Mijah (“seer ease mee-yea-ha”) from eastern Herzegovina, near Dubrovnik, that dates back to the 1300s. It translates as “Cheese in sack” aka “Bellows Cheese”

Produced from raw (although often pasteurised)  sheep and/or cow milk, it is aged for 2-12 months in a sheepskin sack (bellows) weighing 30-70kgs.

It is dry and crumbly – think of lumps of feta cheese, but less salty and not kept in brine.

Links & Resources

Herzegovina Wine Route

Founded in 2007, the HWR is a great resource of wineries, restaurants and events in Herzegovina.
Of particular interest is the Events Calendar

Note that the main map page does note display all wineries and restaurants. Click through to individual regions to see the venues

Mostar Kompas

A free magazine (available at The Spirit of Herzegovina) outlining cultural sites, tours, events and wineries in the region.

Travel Tips & Logistics

Disclaimer: some of the links below are affiliate links which may pay me a small commission should you buy their services via this link at no extra cost to you. This will help contribute towards the costs of running this website.
These are only services that we have personally used during our travel to the islands and endorse regardless of any affiliation link.


Most people under 50 in the wineries, bars and restaurants speak excellent English (fluent to bilingual). It is always helpful to learn some basic local phrases like “hello”, “thank you”, “goodbye”.

It is a good idea however to download google translate for translating signs and menus.

Appointments & Reservations

Make appointments in advance at wineries. Same day appointments may be possible, but a day in advance is usually best.

  • Check their Instagram & Facebook accounts. If they’re regularly active on social media, this may be a good way to reach out to them.
  • Smaller wineries will be busy simply managing the day-to-day business. Don’t be offended if you don’t hear back, or that they’re unable to receive you.

If you particularly enjoy a wine bar / winery / restaurant – do ask them for recommendations on other venues to visit or wines to try.

Mobile Phone Usage

As Bosnia & Herzegovina are not part of the EU, they are generally not covered under European roaming plans


  • Double check with your mobile phone provider.
  • Buy an international sim card in advance, or buy a sim locally when you arrive if your plan does not include EU roaming.
  • Data only sim cards are readily available at the airport on arrival at newsagents (far left of arrivals hall when you exit the customs) and kiosks throughout the country for a few Euro for 3GB.

Many phones nowadays have eSims (you can load several eSims onto most latest models, and activate up to 2 at any one time).

For data plans we use, and can recommend, airalo that sells eSims for most countries and regions (e.g. Europe).
For voice calls, we either use WhatsApp, Instagram, or a dedicated international calling app such as localphone.

menu_bookGuide Book

Our go-to travel guide for over 25 years has been the Lonely Planet series.

They have a guide dedicated to the Canary Islands available from Amazon: Lonely Planet Canary Islands

Car Hire

There is regular public transport between the main cities, however you will require a car (either rental car or via an organised tour) to reach many of the wineries.
Brkić is however walkable to the centre of Ćitluk town.

When driving:

  • Waze and Google Maps are both excellent navigation options.
  • We found that drivers were mostly sensible and courteous.
  • The roads are in great condition, clean and well sign posted. is a great option to compare car hire rates.


When travelling solo, our first choice is Airbnb which is often unavailable due to high demand.

We have found the Expedia to be useful when looking for accommodation, car hire, flights and local tours & experiences.