• PRAIRIE BERRY WINERY | OUR STORY •
MEET OUR WINEMAKER
Fifth-generation winemaker Sandi Vojta grew up near Mound City, S.D.
Her great-great-grandmother, Anna Pesä, immigrated to the Dakota Territory in 1876 from Moravia (now a part of the Czech Republic).
Anna used the local fruits she called “prairie berries” to create wine for her family.
From a young age, Sandi learned both the hard work – and the joys – of living in a rural community.
At the age of four, she would follow her dad, Ralph, out to pick wild chokecherries in the field. Ralph wanted to try and recreate the flavor memory of Anna Pesä’s chokecherry wine.
After collecting enough fruit, Ralph set to work with the yeast. With his youngest daughter in tow, he decided to give Sandi her own bucket and yeast, to let her “play”. It was at that moment which her love of exploration and creativity using the regional fruits and ingredients was born.
PRAIRIE BERRY’S ROOTS
As a young girl, she keenly understood how the different fruits and the timing of harvest could impact the smell, texture, and taste of the beverages she was creating with her father. Sandi absorbed every detail as she began to help her dad in his own winemaking adventure.
After graduating with chemistry and biology degrees from South Dakota State University, Sandi, along with her father and husband, set out to create a unique South Dakota experience by way of a family tradition of winemaking.
They founded Prairie Berry Winery in 1999 in a 500 square foot basement.
From a 20,000 square foot state of the art wine production facility in the Black Hills of South Dakota, Prairie Berry Winery has grown into one of the most successful wineries in the region, winning over 1,000 awards and produces some of the most popular and award-winning wines in the Midwest, including the widely acclaimed Red Ass Rhubarb.
Fifteen years after starting Prairie Berry Winery, the natural next step for Sandi and her husband was opening Miner Brewing Co. in 2013, located next door to the winery near Hill City.
The following year, they expanded east to Sioux Falls, South Dakota and opened Prairie Berry East Bank. Four years later, they moved across Sioux Falls to the Western Mall and reopened as Miner Brewing Co. and Prairie Berry Winery Taproom.
In both her wines and beers, Sandi wants to showcase as much of the uniqueness of South Dakota as possible, using local ingredients when she can. From local honey to handpicked wild fruits such as chokecherries, buffaloberries, and rosehips to indigenous yeast and hops, it all comes from South Dakota. Even the wheat for Miner Wheat comes from her family farm near Mobridge, South Dakota.