Business

Herzegovian Farmer Looks to Keep Momentum After New York Win

The Skegro Family Winery is paving the way for high-quality extra virgin olive oil production in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Jan. 16, 2019
By Ylenia Granitto

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Krš extra virgin olive oil bears the name of the crop-unfriendly karst ter­rain from which it orig­i­nates.

Yet, for more than 25 years, the Škegro Family Winery (Vinarija obitelji Škegro) has been pro­duc­ing highly appre­ci­ated wines from three autochtho­nous grape vari­eties – Žilavka, Blatina and Trnjak – in Ljubuški, a town in the West Herzegovina Canton of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

We work together, with a strong sense of col­lab­o­ra­tion.- Barisa Skegro

Wide strips of unex­ploited land, which until three years ago had been used to sep­a­rate the dif­fer­ent plots of land for vine cul­ti­va­tion, became the ideal set­ting to grow olive trees and create a new agro-food excel­lence.

Hence, Krš gave Bosnia and Herzegovina the oppor­tu­nity to join the ranks of the best extra virgin olive oil pro­duc­ing coun­tries, thanks to the Gold Award received at the last NYIOOC World Olive Oil Competition — the first recog­ni­tion for this coun­try in the world’s most impor­tant olive oil con­test.

See more: Olive Oil Fairs and Competitions

“We are a small family com­pany with a great deal of expe­ri­ence in wine pro­duc­tion,” Bariša Škegro told Olive Oil Times. “At one point, we felt the need to evolve and try new things, always in line with our high stan­dards of qual­ity. On our land, there were a bunch of olive trees, which had been planted by my grand­fa­ther, and this is where our new adven­ture started.”

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Eager to develop new prod­ucts, and deeply linked to Mediterranean food cul­ture, the family com­pany turned its atten­tion to the increas­ingly attrac­tive sector of high-qual­ity extra virgin olive oil, and 300 trees were added to the orig­i­nal group.

“Over the next five years, we are going to plant another 200 or 300 olive trees,” Škegro said, spec­i­fy­ing that for the first phase of their olive oil plan, they chose four vari­eties from neigh­bor­ing coun­tries.

“We planted Oblica, the most wide­spread vari­ety in Croatia, along with Pendolino, Leccino, and Cipressino from Italy,” Škegro added.

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Škegro farm, which is located in the hills of Ljubuški at 360 to 720 feet above sea level and just 18.6 miles from the Adriatic coast, has the ideal soil and weather con­di­tions to pro­mote the growth of these cul­ti­vars.

Oblica is used both for olive oil and table olive pro­duc­tion, as it is char­ac­ter­ized by big spher­i­cal, slightly asym­met­ri­cal fruits.

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“This vari­ety has a good yield,” Škegro said. “In gen­eral, over the first two years of pro­duc­tion, we had a sat­is­fac­tory out­come in terms of volume and qual­ity.”

At the begin­ning of last har­vest, the olives were in great shape, also thanks to the irri­ga­tion that was done during summer, in order to mit­i­gate the effects of a hot season. Very high tem­per­a­tures and severe drought expe­ri­enced over the last few years has led pro­duc­ers in the region to take pre­cau­tions against these kinds of cli­mate issues.

Pendolino, Leccino and Oblica in pro­por­tions of 30 per­cent each, along with 10 per­cent of Cipressino, allowed the Škegro family to obtain a great medium fruity blend.

“We are so sat­is­fied about the result at the NYIOOC, because it was the first time we par­tic­i­pated, and we imme­di­ately obtained an impor­tant recog­ni­tion,” Škegro said, adding that this was pos­si­ble thanks to the work of all of the mem­bers of the family.

“We work together, with a strong sense of col­lab­o­ra­tion, fol­low­ing all the pro­duc­tion process, and we are ready for another suc­cess­ful season in the name of the extra virgin olive oil,” he added.