Making wine helps to heal scars of war in Bosnia

Tue Apr 12, 2011 11:49am EDT
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By Svetlana Kovalyova

VERONA, Italy (Reuters Life!) - Alija Lizde spent five months in military prison camps in 1993. His only crime was being a Bosnian Muslim, but that was enough for the Bosnian Croat military police.

Now Lizde heads a small wine-making cooperative in southern Bosnia and Herzegovina where he works with six Croats and a Serb to revive ancient regional wine traditions -- and help him forget the horrors of the 1992-95 war which tore apart Yugoslavia and devastated Bosnia.

"Working in a vineyard is like therapy, it helps a lot (to forget about the war). We all could use a bit of therapy in our country," Lizde told Reuters at the Vinitaly wine fair where he presented the first wine made by his cooperative.

The Vino-Daorson winery project, funded by Italy's foreign ministry and backed by Italian non-government organization CEFA, started up in 2009. It harvested its first grapes from vineyards near Mostar last year.

Lizde, who is also a director of the Stari Most radio station, said wine-making has become a passion in his life. He spends more and more time in the vineyards and in the winery.

"It helps to leave all stress behind," said the 48-year-old Lizde, who was a witness at the U.N. war crimes trials of former Bosnian Croat leaders.

Working in the vineyards with Croats and Serbs, enemies during the war, has not been a problem for Lizde. His partners in the cooperative were equally open-minded, he said.

"A LITTLE YUGOSLAVIA"   Continued...

<p>Bosnian Journalist and wine maker Alija Lizde talks with a Reuters journalist during the Vinitaly wine expo in Verona, April 8, 2011. REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini</p>