After a summer spent lapping up the sun’s rays, Montenegro’s fertile lands heave with ripened fruit, heralding the arrival of autumn’s main event – Harvest.
During early autumn, harvest is reserved for Montenegro’s expansive range of grape varieties, from Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay, to the indigenous and ancient Krstač.
Wine harvest season sees families gathering to make their own wine, and more importantly, the national liquor, the fruit brandy, ‘rakija’. Once the wines have been bottled, anything leftover is distilled to produce the rakija. Although traditionally drunk at the start and end of a meal, even the slightest excuse is usually enough to sample another sip of this delicious tipple.
Once the grapes have all been gathered and distilled, harvest’s attention turns to Montenegro’s plums, raspberries, blueberries and cornelian cherries. Each fruit is used to make homemade, sweet, sticky jam, so moreish that making it last throughout the winter – let alone the year – can be testing to say the least.
However, harvest’s crowning glory has to be the noble olive. Montenegro’s love of the olive runs deep and is as secure and enduring as the roots of its mighty tree. Typically grown along the Montenegrin coastline, the majority of olive trees line the Luštica peninsula in Boka Bay and Ulcinj, in Valdanos cove.
Still harvested using mostly traditional hand-picking methods and the use of nets on the ground, the olives are then transformed into olive oil, fondly referred to as ‘liquid gold’ for its diverse remedial properties.