Bolaga is the name of a soft, juicy bird cherry from the municipality Breitenbrunn in the Burgenland state. The fruits’ skin is reddish-brown to black colored, and the flesh is dark red to purple. When fully mature, the color of the fruit changes to black. During pressing, an intense blood red to pale purple colored juice is extracted. In this variety, the pit loosens easily from the flesh, facilitating processing. When ripe, the cherries are pleasantly sourly, delicately aromatic, with a slightly bitter to tart aftertaste and they are very juicy. Fruits harvested too late are intensely sweet. Bolaga is a very early ripening variety that is also resistant to pests.
The Bolaga cherry originates from Breitenbrunn, one of the five municipalities of the cherry growing region Leithaberg. The cultivation of cherries (Prunus avium) in the region dates back to the 18th century. The traditional cultivation is of tall trees in vineyards or on farmland. This form of mixed cultivation is typical for the regions of the Northern Burgenland and unique in Austria. The Leithaberge cherry Genuss-Region (“gourmet region”) lies within the UNESCO World heritage area of the Fertö/Neusiedlersee Cultural Landscape.
The favorable growing location causes local cherries to ripen earlier than elsewhere in Austria. This advantageous location has been perfectly used by planting mainly early-ripening cherry varieties that are maturing from late May to mid-June. Annually, a few hundred kilograms of Bolaga cherries are harvested and mainly sold as juice, mixed with other cherry varieties.
Today, demand is low and the cultivation is very labor intensive. Once, the cherry production of Leithaberg region served mainly for the sale on the markets of Vienna. The cherry growing had its economic prosperity in the region in the intermediate and post-War period. Between 10,000 and 15,000 cherry trees were found in each community. The population has now fallen to 5,000 trees throughout the whole region and the number of producers is decreasing as well. There is currently only one single professional commercial operation, and so if this operation stops for any reason, there is great danger that the Bolaga variety will disappear quickly.