After a courageous battle with cancer, Prairie Berry Winery co-founder Ralph Vojta passed away on March 16, 2017.

Ralph grew up picking the wild “prairie berries” with his grandmother in Mound City, South Dakota. There he learned the family’s tradition of winemaking that was handed down from his great-grandmother, Anna Pesä.

Ralph with his daughter Sandi Vojta and her husband, Matt Keck, turned the family winery into a commercial venture in 1999. Prairie Berry Winery became South Dakota’s second commercial winery and was named after the prairie berries that Ralph found growing up as a child.

Prairie Berry Winery moved to its current Hill City location in 2004. In 2013, the “three amigos” as they were called, opened Miner Brewing Company in Hill City. A year later in 2014, Prairie Berry East Bank in Sioux Falls opened.

Ralph was an important part of the Prairie Berry company and the South Dakota winemaking community. His knowledge of local ingredients and tremendous sense of humor led to some of our best-selling wines.

The unique wines that he helped create and name also honor him. They include our most award-winning wine, Red Ass Rhubarb, as well as 3RednecksLawrence Elk, and Uncle Ralph’s Rhubarb.

If you so wish to honor Ralph’s memory, donations can be made in Ralph’s honor to www.madeforshadesd.com.