Herzegovinian Olive Grower Škegro Does It Again

The Škegro family continues to keep Bosnia and Herzegovina among the places to find world-class extra virgin olive oils.
Apr. 7, 2022
Nedjeljko Jusup

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They say that the award is eas­ier to win than to defend, and the Škegro Family Winery from Bosnia and Herzegovina suc­ceeded in both. For five years in a row, their oil has won gold at the NYIOOC World Olive Oil Competition, the indus­try’s most cov­eted olive oil qual­ity award.

It is sat­is­fac­tion for the work invested and sac­ri­fice. Recognition to me, our fam­ily and even the region of Herzegovina.- Mirko Škegro, Škegro Family Winery

The New York Award means a lot. It is sat­is­fac­tion for the work invested and sac­ri­fice. Recognition to me, our fam­ily and even the region of Herzegovina of which we are a part. The recog­ni­tion con­firms that we are on the right track,” Mirko Škegro (72) told Olive Oil Times.

Mirko, with his wife Mirjana, daugh­ter Andrea, sons Bariša and Ante owns a fam­ily win­ery that has been pro­duc­ing highly val­ued wines from autochtho­nous grape vari­eties Žilavka, Blatina, Trnjak and Orange for 26 years.

But lately, it has become increas­ingly famous for extra vir­gin olive oils. Oil and wine are eter­nal brands, and vines and olives in sym­bio­sis give top qual­ity,” said Mirko.

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Olives have always been planted along the edges of vine­yards in Herzegovina, and the Škegro fam­ily con­tin­ues this tra­di­tion. Along the edges and between the vine­yard plan­ta­tions, they planted a total of 600 olive trees, 100 of which are in full fruition.

Most of them are autochtho­nous vari­eties Oblica, Levantinka, Lastovka, Istarska Bjelica and Italian Leccino, Pendolino, Coratina and Cipressino. Ideal expo­sure, per­me­able soil rich in min­er­als as well as cli­mate play a role in every­thing.

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The Škegro fam­ily plan­ta­tions are located in west­ern Herzegovina in the hills above the town of Ljubuški in Radišići at 132 to 312 meters above sea level and only 28.6 miles from the Adriatic coast. There is bio­di­ver­sity, a mul­ti­tude of endemic species.

The Mediterranean and con­ti­nen­tal cli­mate mixes, the days are hot and the nights are cold, which suits both vines and olives. Fruits accu­mu­late sug­ars and dry mat­ter,” said Škegro. He espe­cially empha­sized the autochtho­nous vari­ety Oblica, which accounts for 40 per­cent of the award-win­ning oil Krš.

“[The Oblica] is resis­tant to dis­eases, and the fruits give the oil an extra qual­ity. They are also ideal for can­ning and con­sump­tion,” Škegro reminds crit­ics who have recently advo­cated aban­don­ing Oblica and re-graft­ing it to other, mostly intro­duced vari­eties.

The secret of top-qual­ity olive oil is in har­vest­ing, pro­cess­ing and stor­age. We pick olives when the dead­lines are opti­mal, by hand. All fam­ily mem­bers take part in the har­vest. Then cold press­ing fol­lows within a few hours. The oil imme­di­ately goes into stain­less steel con­tain­ers. After a month, they pour it into dark bot­tles and store it at an ideal tem­per­a­ture of 16 to 18°C.

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The Škegro family

The result of all the above is pre­mium oil with a mild taste and a bal­anced bit­ter­ness, full of aro­mas and fruiti­ness. Thanks to the qual­ity and awards for Škegro’s oils and wines, it became widely known.

We had the honor and plea­sure to host the Ambassador of the United States to Bosnia and Herzegovina, Eric Nelson, and his asso­ciates,” said Škegro. They pre­sented their prod­ucts, wines and oils, which are the result of har­mo­nious fam­ily work and dis­cussed the devel­op­ment of rural tourism and the brand­ing of Herzegovina as a des­ti­na­tion for top wines and oils.

Marko Ivanković, the direc­tor of the Federal Agromediterranean Institute Mostar, also attended the meet­ing. We are tak­ing big steps for­ward,” he said.

Although orga­nized olive cul­ti­va­tion began in the last 10 years or so, from 6,000 trees they have reached the cur­rent 87,000, which cover 350 hectares — a growth that has not been recorded so far in the European Mediterranean.

In a recent inter­view with the Olive Oil Times, Ivankovic said that in the next medium term, the goal is to reach 1,000 ha under olive trees.

With the increase in the num­ber of com­mer­cial pro­duc­ers and the increase in pro­cess­ing capac­ity, the aim is to pro­tect the ori­gin and geo­graph­i­cal ori­gin of Herzegovinian olive oil and its brand­ing,” con­cluded Ivanković.

As for the Škegro fam­ily, their wines and oils are, as they say, a story that lasts, con­tin­ues and leaves a mark.”

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