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Now that temperatures have actually hit summer levels, your thirsty thoughts may be turning toward icy drinks. (Read: Not wine.)

Don’t abandon that bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon just because the thermometer happens to read 95. When the sweltering temperatures have you sipping in the shade, an iced pitcher of sangria on the table beside your lawn chair may be just the refreshment you seek. It’s light, fruity and cold—everything you want in a hot-weather drink.
Sangria originated in Spain and there are as many variations of the recipe as there are people who make it—and probably more. Sangria is essentially wine mixed with fruit and some other ingredients. That’s about all the parameters there are for sangria.
Here’s a basic, traditional sangria recipe courtesy of www.spain-recipes.com
Sangria
•       3 1/4 cups ( 26 fl. oz) dry red wine
•       1 tablespoon sugar
•       Juice of 1 large orange
•       Juice of 1 large lemon
•       1 large orange, sliced thin crosswise
•       1 large lemon, sliced thin crosswise
•       2 medium peaches, peeled, pitted and cut into chunks
•       1 cup (8 fl. oz) club soda
Combine all the ingredients except the club soda in a large punch bowl or serving pitcher. Mix well. Refrigerate overnight. Immediately before serving, mix in the club soda for added fizz. Ladle into cups with ice cubes.
(Yes, you will be putting ice cubes in wine. RED wine. It’s really okay, just relax!)
Here’s a Prairie Berry recipe:
Black Currant Sangria
  • 1 bottle Lawrence Elk black currant wine
  • 2 cups orange juice
  • 1/8 cup simple syrup (equal parts of sugar and water heated until sugar dissolves)
  • Sliced limes, lemons and oranges
Fresh fruit of your choice (we use red grapes, oranges, blueberries, blackberries, limes and lemons)
Orange zest
Sugar
Mix first four ingredients and chill for a few hours. It gets better the longer you let it sit! Rim a wine glass with orange zest and sugar, add ice, fresh fruit and sangria. You can also add the simple syrup to your taste.
Pink Slip SangriaWe also make sangria with our Pink Slip, a white zinfandel and Steuben grape wine. Just add a splash of Lawrence Elk and some fresh fruit. But don’t let our ideas limit yours.
Like summer, sangria is all about making the most of what’s on hand, being creative and making the situation fit your mood. “Season to taste,” so to speak. So lighten up and get creative with your wine. It’s okay. Really.

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Comments Off on Chill out! Summer wine care

It appears that summer is here with a vengeance. One of the best witticisms I’ve seen regarding the recent heat wave is, “Satan called. He wants his weather back.”

While there are a lot of things to consider when the temperatures are forecast to be in the “lower hundreds” as I heard on the radio the other day, wine may not be at the forefront of your mind. Unless it’s chilled and served in air conditioning.
When temperatures start climbing, give a little thought to how you transport and store wine, or you may be sorry.
1. Wine should always be kept in a cool, dark place–55 degrees is perfect. I have an ideal wine cellar, but people refer to it more colloquially as a basement. You might try a closet, which would offer protection from light and temperature fluctuations.
If you have your wine in a decorative wine rack, consider where you put it and make sure it’s out of direct sunlight and away from other heat sources. The top of the refrigerator may seem like a good idea, but the motor produces heat and vibration that can damage your wine.
2. In the summer, the deadliest place for any living thing–and wine is a living thing–is in a car. If you know you will be buying wine, plan to make that your last stop. If you aren’t going to be stopping, put the wine in the front of the car where it is air conditioned, rather than the trunk. If you’re stopping with the windows rolled up for more than 15-20 minutes, the trunk actually stays cooler.
3. Pack a cooler. A few reusable ice packs in a cooler can make the difference between “mmm” and “blech.” I keep a collapsible cooler under the seat in my car so I’ve always got it when I need it, whether for wine or ice cream.
Wine can stand heat up to 120 degrees for several hours without being noticeably affected (the temperature in a car can quickly reach 140 degrees and higher), but it’s best to keep it cool.
So, when you grab a bottle of wine on a hot day and get distracted by the Farmer’s Market, a garage sale and the Little League car wash, there’s only one way to tell if your wine survived the trip home–taste it.
The heat speeds up the aging process, so the wine quickly begins to deteriorate. If you know it’s been too warm, chill and drink it as soon as possible. A wine that’s gotten too warm may taste “cooked,” like stewed fruit, but won’t hurt you.
Keep in mind that most red wines should be served at about 55 degrees, MUCH cooler than the “room temperature” you may encounter in late July.
The single most important rule when dealing with wine is this: If it tastes good, drink it. If it tastes bad, don’t.

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In: Wine, Wine & Food

Comments Off on What to sip with salads

“What’s for supper?”
The phrase has become the bane of my existence, especially in the summer. I don’t feel like cooking and I don’t feel like eating something that’s been cooked. The solution? Salad.

Pasta salad (yes, there is some cooking involved). Tossed salad. Steak salad. Chicken salad. Seafood salad. The term “salad” is so vague it can refer to anything from vegetables to gelatin. But generally, salads are cold, crisp and crunchy. Wines paired with salad should be the same-well, almost the same. Crunchy wine?

Pairing a wine with a salad can be tricky. Most salads are dressed with an acidic dressing, so a wine needs to complement that, not get bulldozed by it.

For those salads, you’ll want to choose a wine with a fairly high acid level. Dry rosés are pretty safe bets for most salads, like a romaine and arugula salad tossed with herb-marinated grilled chicken. Top it with grilled salmon or lemon shrimp and you’re still safe with a dry rosé. One dry rosé to check out that is fairly inexpensive and widely available in South Dakota is LaVielle Ferme. All the wines from this French winery are great dry, summer wines. If you’re looking for a local wine, try Prairie Berry’s Pink Slip or Crab Apple.

If you switch to steak to top your greens you’ll want to stick with conventional wisdom and serve it with a red wine. Italian wines are good served with steak salad because they are created to stand up to hearty, acidic tomato sauces and work well with both the beefy flavor and the high acid of the dressing.

If you go lighter and leave off the meat, try pairing a tossed salad with Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Grigio.

Generally, steer clear of sweet wines with salads. And pick a wine you can chill. It is summer, after all.

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A summer evening isn’t complete without the smell of barbecue smoke in the air. When it’s time to break out the charcoal and marinate that special cut of meat or skewer the vegetables, think beyond beverages in boxes and allow a bottle of wine to turn that regular backyard barbecue into a special occasion. But before you venture out onto the patio, nervously clutching the grill tongs and a bottle of wine, let’s set a few ground rules.

Saying white wines are best for summer is like saying you should wear white shoes only between Memorial Day and Labor Day—it’s outdated and bossy. Consider whites the lemonade and reds the iced tea of wines. Both are acceptable in the summer, it’s just a matter of finding out what you like and what you’re in the mood for.
Barbecue naturally provides a smoky flavor. A lighter red wine can enhance this while adding a touch of sweetness and spice. A Beaujolais wine, made from Gamay grapes, would be perfect for a summer evening with a cricket serenade. This French wine is light and fruity and—bonus—served lightly chilled. Who wants to end a hot summer day with a warm drink? For grilling beef, buffalo or Portobello, or meats that are basted in a sweet barbecue sauce, a heavier-bodied red wine may be more appropriate. Some red wines to try this summer—Zinfandel, Shiraz, Barbera, Chianti or Syrah.
Even if a red wine is supposed to be served at room temperature, keep in mind that South Dakota’s summer temperatures will probably be between 20 and 40 degrees warmer than that ideal temperature.
Most red wines should be served at around 50 degrees, which you can achieve by putting it in the fridge for about 20 minutes before serving. Since you may want a wine that is enjoyable at a cooler temperature, don’t crack open that wine you’ve been aging for years, or a very complex wine. The flavors you most want to savor may end up being overwhelmed by the flavorful food and the bouquet will lose to the chill.
If you’re still nervous about serving a red when the temperature starts climbing, head for the old standbys. Chilled white wines and blushes can be more appealing in the summer because of their temperature and lighter flavors. Try a high-acid white wine, maybe a Riesling or a Sauvignon Blanc, but steer clear of the Chardonnays for a grill-centered meal.

If you can’t decide whether to go with red or white, split the difference and pick a blush, or rosé. These wines, with their flavors of red fruits with notes of tea, citrus or even watermelon, may be just the summer sippers you’re looking for.

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In: Prairie Berry, Wine

Comments Off on What’s in the bottle?

What’s in the bottle? Usually, wine. But even more simply, there’s glass in the bottle. And in the bottles we use at Prairie Berry, there’s a lot of thought, consideration and research.

At Prairie Berry one of our values is sustainability. We view ourselves as stewards of the environment. Our building and grounds were designed with that in mind and now this commitment to sustainability and environmental friendliness extends even to our bottles.

We have started using the ECO Series™ sold by Caliber WinePak and manufactured by Saint-Gobain Containers because they fit with our values.

These bottles are slightly smaller than standard wine bottles, so use less glass, but hold the same amount of wine. Magic! They require less energy to manufacture. Because the bottles are smaller, the cases can be smaller. Less cardboard. More cases will fit on a truck. Less fuel. And they are made in plants in Seattle, Wash., and Madera, Calif. Yeah, that’s in the U.S.A.

You probably couldn’t tell these bottles from the standard ones if you put them in a line-up. They look very similar and are manufactured with both cork and Stelvin closure options. As for durability, well, when we were bottling one of our latest wines in the ECO bottles, one of our staff (who shall remain nameless), dropped an empty bottle on the concrete floor. Steeling ourselves for the crash and dash for the broom, we were impressed to see it bounce. It was recovered without a chip.

So, you may have already bought Prairie Berry wine in ECO bottles and didn’t know it. We’re just telling you because we hope you, like us, want to do what you can to help the environment bounce, not break.

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Comments Off on Prairie Berry Wins Best of Class in San Francisco

HILL CITY, S.D. — The judges in San Francisco seem to like what South Dakota does with raspberries and honey.  Prairie Berry Winery’s Raspberry Honeywine was among 80 Best of Class winners in the 2012 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition. About 5,500 wines were entered in the competition. Since Raspberry Honeywine’s competition debut in 2003 it has garnered nearly 40 medals.

Sturgis Honey, a family-owned business near Sturgis, S.D. produces the honey, which makes up about 60 percent of Raspberry Honeywine. “The honey traveled less than 60 miles from the collection facility to the winery,” said Bob Weyrich, Prairie Berry’s grower relationships manager. The winery uses as many South Dakota products as possible in their wines, including hand-picked native fruits like buffaloberries, chokecherries, river grapes and wild plums. Prairie Berry partners with Lewis & Clark Vineyard, near Yankton, S.D. for their South Dakota-grown grapes.

Four wines made from those South Dakota-grown grapes earned medals in San Francisco. Port-style Frontenac 2011 and semi-dry white wine Frontenac Gris 2011 each brought home a gold medal. Semi-dry white wines St. Pepin 2011 and Brianna 2011 earned silver medals.

All of Prairie Berry’s wines are produced, start to finish, in their winery near Hill City, S.D.

“It is awesome to have South Dakota wine recognized at this level,” said Sandi Vojta, Prairie Berry’s winemaker. “We have amazing partners in Sturgis Honey and Lewis & Clark Vineyard that work really hard to give us high-quality products to start with.”

In their 10 years in the commercial wine business, Prairie Berry has won 617 awards for nearly 50 different wines. For more than a century before commercial wineries were legal in South Dakota, the Vojta family produced wines from the fruit of the prairie, having brought those skills to the Dakotas from Czechoslovakia in 1876. A family tradition that started with wild chokecherries and homemade oak barrels has grown into one of the largest and most acclaimed wineries in the Midwest.

“I try to make wine people like to drink,” Vojta said. “It’s always an honor to have those efforts recognized by the judges, but nothing compares to hearing from someone who just loves our wine.”

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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.

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A South Dakota Wine Winner – Red Ass Rhubarb

by on 1st Feb, 2010

A Best of Class award for a South Dakota winery.

Prairie Berry Winery in Hill City is enjoying the attention surrounding its latest success, a success that’s been a long time in the making.

The family behind Prairie Berry Winery’s been making wine – oh since 1876. That’s nearly 135 years of experience in every bottle.

Most recently that experience helped them bring home the Judges Choice and Best of Class awards back to South Dakota from the San Francisco Chronicle’s wine competition.
Marketing Director Michele Slott says, “They have really high standards, a silver’s like a double gold at another competition. It’s a big thing, it really is.”

Their red rhubarb wine is what has the judges talking. Made of 10 percent raspberries and 90 percent rhubarb.

“They named the top ten things they learned, we were number 3. They said that they had to drink more fruit wine, especially from Prairie Berry Winery – we’re the only ones named in the article,” says Slott.

Prairie Berry gets their fruit from all over the state of South Dakota. While the family’s been making wine for decades, Prairie Berry opened as a commercial winery in 1998.

– See more at: http://www.dailyfruitwine.com/2010/02/a-south-dakota-wine-winner-red-ass-rhubarb/#sthash.gFzptYz8.dpuf