Waterfalls, mountainsides, rivers and one of the only remaining primeval forests in Europe make up Bosnia. Though officially named Bosnia and Herzegovina (with Bosnia in the north and Herzegovina in the south), this country is one of the continent’s most underrated adventure gems.
But many don’t know it’s a wine lover’s paradise and there’s great opportunity to enjoy Bosnia wine. Bosnia and Herzegovina is home to a several thousand-year-old winemaking culture, two wine-producing regions, a few dozen commercial wineries and plenty of eateries that boast stand-out drinks lists.
Today, many of the region’s wineries grow indigenous grapes like the white Žilavka and red varieties of Blatina. Additionally, they grow Vranac, a varietal believed to be indigenous to Macedonia but popular across the Balkan Peninsula. Ready to get exploring?
Begin your journey in the capital, Sarajevo. Here, you’ll sample the country’s range of Bosnia wine through its restaurants and wine bars. From there, it’s easy to get to Bosnia’s wine country.
Just to the north of the city center, you’ll find Sarajevo’s only vineyard. Owner Arman Galicic planted it in 2008 to prove vines could grow on Sarajevo’s northern slopes. When he saw the success of the vineyard, he named it Inat, or “in spite.”
Along with the vineyards, you can also explore the fine-dining restaurant, Hedona, and the reservation-only wine club and dining event. Hedona’s wine list specializes in Chardonnay and Pinot Noir from Italy, Slovenia and Croatia. Pair these bottles with Galicic’s daughter’s “slow-cooked” and Bosnian-focused dishes such as sous vide lamb, creamy local cheeses, cured sheep sausage and pistachio and cream cheese ravioli.
Reservations must be made at least 24 hours in advance.
Along with elegant decor and comfortable seating, this wine bar has one of the larger selections in the city center. Many of Sarajevo’s restaurants serve wine in single-serve bottles. But Dekanter offers a wide range of traditional bottles and pours by the glass from over 180 international and domestic labels like Château Cissac in France, Edi Simčič in Slovenia and Carska in Bosnia.
Right next to Baščaršija, the Turkish-style market and medieval neighborhood where this Ottoman empire city started, is La Cava. This spot serves bottles from domestic wineries like Vukoje and Nuić and red varietals from southern Italy like Negroamaro and Nero d’Avola. La Cava bartenders are also known for their cocktails, and, while the mojito is a stand-out, they will custom-make drinks on request.
On the southern side of the Miljacka river that divides the city, Sarajevo Brewing is a beacon for beer lovers. The brewery serves up malt-forward beers and its own soft drinks in an opera house-like setting. Along with the range of lagers and a Radler, the brewery offers a robust, unfiltered beer on-site. The restaurant serves up pasta and steak dishes.
When you’re ready to move from the city to the wine regions, consider the two-and-a-half-hour train ride from Sarajevo to Mostar in Herzegovina. Named one of Europe’s top 10 most beautiful train journeys, the route hugs mountains and clings to cliffs on the way to the wine region. From there, it’s best to explore Mostar by car and four of the area’s wineries are less than an hour’s drive.
Vino Brkic is the first winery in Herzegovina that produces wines organically and biodynamically. This third-generation winery’s first completely organic wine, Moonwalker, was created around the moon’s phases. Owner Josip Brkic also encourages visitors to try their different styles of Žilavka and Blatina, aged in Bosnian oak.
Down the road, Vinarija Marijanović is a fourth-generation family winery. Josip Marijanović grew up in the vineyard with his grandfather and father before studying winemaking. “It’s just in our blood,” he says. Guests can enjoy their Žilavka, a dry white wine, but Marijanović says not to miss their 33 Barrique, an equal parts blend of Blatina, Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon. They have an onsite hotel scheduled to open later in 2023.
Just a ten-minute drive from Vinarija Marijanović is Rubis, a winery owned by three childhood friends. They focus on producing both domestic Blatina and Žilavka as well as international varietals like Syrah, Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon.
Co-owner Oliver Mandarić praises the mild Mediterranean climate, particularly in the drier vineyards where Žilavka shines.
Vino Milas is less than an hour’s drive from Mostar. The Milas family first planted grapes in 1892 and used traditional methods until the move to mechanized planting in 2004. “Every bottle that goes out there is a little part of us,” says owner Tomislav Milas. The winery focuses on Žilavka, Blatina and Merlot.
In the limestone karst hills of the country’s southernmost corner is Trebinje, a two-hour drive from Mostar and less than an hour from Dubrovnik, Croatia.
Vukoje winery is a must-visit in the region. The winery is home to historic acreage that the Austro-Hungarian monarchy chose for the imperial vineyards in 1894. Look out over the vineyards while enjoying locally-sourced cheeses, fish and pasta as you sip their signature Žilavka, Vranac Reserve or Merlot that owner and winemaker Radovan Vukoje pours regularly.
A 15th-century Orthodox church with 4th-century foundations, Tvrdoš Monastery has been making wine on site for centuries. Visitors can view vivid murals in the cathedral before trying the eight varietals made by monks in its cellars, including the Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay and Vranac.
Anđelić Wine Cellar
The Anđelić family has produced wine and brandy in the region for over a century. Two miles from the Trebinje city center, Anđelić Wine Cellar offers Žilavka, Vranac, Lira, Žirado, Tribun and Mičevac varieties. The family is currently restoring their historic vineyards that used to have over 26,000 vines.
How to Get Around Bosnia and Herzegovina‘s Wine Country
Beyond the scenic train from Sarajevo to Mostar, driving is the easiest way to get around.
Car rentals are an excellent option. Mostar’s airport has a large supply of rental cars, but Enterprise and others are available throughout the city. Sarajevo also has a range of rental car choices. Driving is on the same side of the road and U.S.
Herzegovina has several tours for the region’s wine route, starting in Sarajevo, Mostar, or even Dubrovnik, Croatia. Funky Tours hosts a day of wine tasting around Mostar, visiting Vino Brkic and Marijanović, among others. Hit Booker day tour stops at three Herzegovina wineries and the Kravica waterfalls.