HILL CITY, S.D.–Prairie Berry Winery took home nearly 10 percent of the gold medals at the American Wine Society’s Commercial Wine Competition. The competition, which took place in Rochester, N.Y., attracted 540 submissions from around the country. Twenty-one gold medals were awarded and Prairie Berry’s Raspberry Honeywine and dry Phat Hogg Red earned two of those.

“These judges are really well-versed in wines and what to look for,” Sandi Vojta, the winemaker for Prairie Berry, a family-owned winery near Hill City, S.D. “To be two of only 21 wines to win gold at this competition is a huge honor,” Vojta said.

What made the honor even better was that the co-chair of the competition, Harvey Reissig, called to personally congratulate Vojta on thewinery’s showing.

The winery entered 10 wines in the competition, and all 10 brought home medals.

“It’s really an honor because I know these people have really discerning and educated palates,” Vojta said.

The American Wine Society has been around for nearly 45 years and is the oldest and largest consumer-based wine education organization in North America.

This year Prairie Berry has brought home nearly 100 awards for 22 of their wines, all of which are made at the winery in South Dakota.  Prairie Berry Winery’s medal count for the 10 years they’ve been making wine commercially is just over 600.

The Vojta family was making wine long before they gave any thought to awards. Vojta’s great-great-grandmother, Anna Pesa Vojta immigrated to central South Dakota in 1876 and brought along her family’s tradition of winemaking. Five generations later, Vojta is still making wines from the “prairie berries” of the Plains.