Gnojnice, Bosnia and Herzegovina

Photo: Imperial Vineyards

Blatina is deep and complex. Alicante Bouchet is rare and juicy. Vranac is dense and acidic. Žilavka is earthy and nutty. Before today, you’d never heard of any of these grapes. The wines made from them are about to surprise you, though. The wine region will, too.

Bosnia and Herzegovina is a country you never expected to visit. The Balkan country has a turbulent history, to say the least. The assassinations of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria and his wife, Sophie, in Sarajevo led to the beginning of World War I. It was part of a socialist republic, Yugoslavia, after World War II. Independence came in 1992, but the Bosnian War quickly followed. It’s been a slow process for BiH to find its footing on the world stage ever since.

People are finally starting to explore BiH. Sarajevo, the gutted capital, is being rebuilt and modernized. The little sliver of coastline around Neum has become a stop, along with Croatia and Montenegro, on the Adriatic coast. While more of Herzegovina, the country’s southern region, is being discovered thanks to its caves, karstic springs, and waterfalls. Now wineries are being added to the quickly expanding list.

This is not a new wine-producing region. Grapes have been grown here for about two millennia. Yes, thousands of years. The Romans and the Ottomans took advantage of the area’s hot summers and mild winters. The Austro-Hungarian Empire did, too. That’s when Imperial Vineyards planted their vineyards. By 1929, they were winning awards throughout Europe. People around the world would probably be drinking wine from BiH if it weren’t for World War II and its ramifications.

But back to Imperial Vineyards. The winery is still making delicious wines. Its elegant Blatina is aged in oak barrels. Its straw-colored Žilavka has a hint of acacia honey. While its Emporia Ròse is crisp, tart, and unlike any other rosé wine. Sleek accommodations, featuring huge black-and-white photographs of the vineyards, will soon open at the winery, as well. It looks like your next wine trip has been planned for you.

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