It’s September in Trebinje, an ancient region in the south of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the grape harvest is in full swing.
On the 30 hectares of ‘Podrumi Vukoje 1982’ vineyard harvesters began work in the early morning, as they try to get the harvest in before the hottest part of the day arrives. With more than 150 gold medals from national and international wine competitions a 125-year-old vineyard, Podrumi Vukoje 1982 is well known for its high quality products, not only in Bosnia and Herzegovina, but in the markets all over the world.
“We are winery that deals exclusively with high quality wine production and we are the leader in this sector in Bosnia and Herzegovina. In order to keep this leading position, we need to constantly invest in new technologies and follow international trends” says owner Radovan Vukoje, as he takes the short break from his work.
Because he wants to keep up with the wine making techniques in the rest of the world, Radovan applied to European Union’s project EU4Business’ public call for investment support in processing capacities and marketing of agri-food products. Podrumi Vukoje 1982 applied to the public call with the investment proposal for production modernization worth around BAM 400.000 (US$242,000). After the extensive and detailed process of beneficiary selection, EU4Business project approved a grant in the amount of BAM 197.000 (US$119,000). This investment in modernization has enabled Radovan to buy small machinery and equipment for the winery, such as a grinder, transport pump, pneumatic press, wine filter, streaming pump, chiller, pipe grape cooling system, screening table and wooden barrels.
“This equipment will help us transform grapes from our vineyards into high quality products that we are known for,” he says. “We are a major producer. We have invested lots of our own resources and we hope to create significant story for the future.”
This investment will not only improve quality of production, it has also enabled Radovan to take on new workers, as well as increase in productivity and income in the future.
One new employee of the winery is 29-year-old Zdravko Milinović. He started working two months ago and this is his first job in the wine sector. “I always loved wine and now I got the chance to work in winery,” the father of one says. He talks about his new job with enthusiasm. “The most important thing is that the job is interesting and that it is done with love.” Together with the rest of his colleagues he has already started training to work on the new equipment.
Radovan has many plans for the future of winery and one of these is an investment in rural tourism. “Our vineyard is very unique; it is 125 years old and it is the best vineyard for “žilavka” our indigenous type of grapes. Austro-Hungarians planted it, and wines from this vineyard were send to Emperor’s court. So the vineyard has this beautiful history that we want to valorize through tourism.”
EU4Business is European Union’s project that aims to strengthen Bosnia and Herzegonvina’s capacity for economic growth and employment by fostering competitiveness and innovation in selected sectors. EU4Business is worth EUR 16.1 million; EUR 15 million is funded by the European Union and EUR 1.1 million by the Federal Republic of Germany. The project is jointly implemented by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit, UNDP and the International Labour Organization. EU4Business is part of the Local Development Strategies — Local Self-Government and Economic Development Programme in Bosnia and Herzegovina by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development.
Photos by UNDP Bosnia and Herzegovina/Sulejman Omerbasic, except where noted.
Story first published on UNDP Medium.