In: Heritage, News

Comments Off on Prairie Berry Winery Welcomes “Plow Horse” by John Lopez

Plow Horse by John LopezWinery front lawn
showcases artwork to
the public for the holidays

Hill City, SD—December 3, 2013— There’s a new art installation at Prairie Berry Winery, near Hill City. Area artist John Lopez has just placed his newest work, Plow Horse at the winery for the public to enjoy before it continues its short, Black Hills tour, then moves on to its permanent home outside the state.

Special Events Associate, Sarah King notes, “We are so excited to be able to host this beautiful, powerful work and share it with the public. I think anyone with a rural history in their family will really find that Plow Horse speaks to them.”

At one point in our nation’s history, draft horses were critical to both agriculture and industry.  A draft horse pulling a single-bottom played a very important role in our nation’s food production. Lopez welded the Plow Horse sculpture using old parts that came from the same tractors that we use to pull plows even now. Lopez was commissioned to create this piece by a client on the East Coast. This unique work will have a very limited showing in the Black Hills before it leaves for its permanent installation in New Hampshire.

Plow Horse  will be on display December 3, 2013 – January 15, 2014 on Prairie Berry’s front lawn. A public reception for the artist will be held December 14th from noon to 3:00 p.m. at Prairie Berry to allow the public a chance to meet and talk with sculptor John Lopez. All are welcome.


Sarah King
Prairie Berry Wineruy
23837 Hwy 385, Hill City, SD  57745
Phone:  605-574-3898


Prairie Berry Winery is a family-owned business near Hill City, South Dakota. Their roots are deep in the state, noting through their slogan that that they have been making “South Dakota wines since 1876.” Open daily for wine tasting, shopping and service from their kitchen, they received a TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence in 2013. For more information, see


In: News

Comments Off on Miner Brewing Company opens November 11th near HILL CITY


Miner Brewing Company Opens November 11th Near Hill City

Regionally-styled Craft Brewery from the owners of award-winning Prairie Berry Winery

Hill City, SD—November 1, 2013—Sandi Vojta and Matt Keck, owners of award-winning Prairie Berry Winery in Hill City, hosted a ribbon cutting with the Rapid City Chamber of Commerce this week for the newest addition to the Prairie Berry family, Miner Brewing Company.  Located next door to the winery in Hill City, Miner Brewing produces craft beers that are traditional in nature, highlighted with local and regional ingredients to make them distinctively “South Dakota”. The craft brewery is scheduled to open to the public on November 11, 2013.

Over 70 people turned out for the exclusive, pre-opening event that featured beer production tours, pourings of four different Miner Brewing beers, and an introduction to the inspiration and history behind South Dakota’s newest craft brewery. Sandi Vojta is Brewmaster and her husband, Matt Keck, oversees all Management and Operations for Miner Brewing.

Opening a craft brewery has been part of the long term vision for Vojta and Keck since the initial concepting for Prairie Berry Winery in 1998.  Says Keck, “Over a beer at our kitchen table, we were talking about the different ways we could create a truly “Unique South Dakota experience” for people. We believe that Prairie Berry Winery has done just that with regionally-inspired wines – and now, with Miner Brewing Company, that same vision continues.”

With five generations of family lineage handcrafting beverages in South Dakota, and 15 years as Winemaker and owner of Prairie Berry Winery, Vojta is inspired by the traditional brewing styles of her family’s European heritage. By infusing regional and seasonal ingredients, she has skillfully adapted the traditional styles of her heritage to create distinctive craft beers with a regional character­.

Once open, Miner Brewing will offer craft beer by the glass and by the flight. A flight will be six, four-ounce glasses of different beers made onsite at the brewery, selections for which will vary seasonally and as available. “Each of our beers is produced in a manner that allows us to keep close attention to quality and flavor profiles at all times,” says Vojta.

The craft brewery will seat 30 people inside the Tap Room, with a large Beer Garden outside for seating an additional 85 people. At full capacity, Miner Brewing anticipates offering up to 10 distinct beers on-tap or in 4 oz. flights, growler fills, light snacks and brewery-related merchandise for sale. Initially, Miner Brewing beers will be exclusively available in the Hill City Tap Room, with a limited selection offered in the Prairie Berry Winery kitchen. Miner Brewing will be open daily from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., beginning November 11, 2013, with extended hours on Friday and Saturday until 8 p.m.



Matt Keck
Miner Brewing Company
23845 Hwy 385, Hill City, SD 57745
Phone:  605-574-2886

About Miner Brewing Company

Located in the heart of the Black Hills, and owned and operated by the same family behind the award-winning Prairie Berry Winery, Miner Brewing Company produces classically styled beers of traditional, European flavor profiles, influenced by the regional characteristics and ingredients of South Dakota and the Midwest. With five generations of family lineage handcrafting beverages in South Dakota, Brewmaster  Sandi Vojta and her husband and Operations Manager, Matt Keck,  are inspired to create unique South Dakota experiences through their products and the venues in which they offer them.  The new Hill City craft brewery offers an indoor Tap Room and large outdoor Beer Garden.  Miner Brewing beers are available in the Hill City Tap Room, with a limited selection offered in the Prairie Berry Winery kitchen.



In: News, Prairie Berry

Comments Off on Prairie Berry Winery expanding to downtown Sioux Falls


Jodi Schwan/SFBJ

Written by Jodi Schwan

Prairie Berry Winery is expanding to Sioux Falls with a restaurant, wine tasting, retail and event space in the historic Frank Transfer & Storage Building.

“We’re bringing the best of the winery out to Sioux Falls,” co-owner Matt Keck said. “We’re certainly excited about it.”

The Frank building at 322 and 324 E. Eighth St. added Queen City Bakery this summer. Hill City-based Prairie Berry, which is still finalizing a name for its Sioux Falls presence, will take the rest of the main level and part of the lower level.

“We’ll be doing wine tastings there,” Keck said. “We’ll sell on- and off-sale, and we’ll bring our Prairie Berry Kitchen, which is one of the top-rated kitchens in the Hills.”

He plans to focus on sandwich, soup and salad lunches and then appetizers and cheese trays in the early dinner hours. The kitchen specializes in seasonal and locally grown menu items.

“It just really has taken on a life of its own,” Keck said. “We’ll have a little more of a restaurant feel and a little less retail feel because Sioux Falls is very much about going out and being with friends … but we’ll bring the same merchandise and our wine to Sioux Falls.”

The winery in Hill City recently expanded, giving it the production capability to serve Sioux Falls, something Keck said he has wanted to do for years. He wasn’t planning to move this fast on a location, but as soon as he saw the renovated Frank building he said it clearly was the right fit.

“It was the amount of space we were looking for, it’s very historical and just the area of town we wanted to be.”

The plan is to open in the first half of 2014.




In: News, Prairie Berry

Comments Off on True West: Drinking With the Friars

Drinking with the Friars

Tracing the history of wine from New Mexico and beyond.

Written by Sherry Monahan
Published May 13, 2013 in True West Magazine

friar-Garcia-de-Zuniga_kolache. After moving to White Oaks, New Mexico, in 1886, Albert Zeigler was awaiting 10 gallons of “very fine wine,” as the pioneer put it, that ox teams were transporting from San Antonio. “When the keg came we were all so anxious to get a good drink,” he recalled, “but when we opened the keg you can imagine our great disappointment to find it filled with water. Someone had taken the wine out and filled the keg up with water.”

Wine in New Mexico dates back to 1629 when Franciscan friar Garcia de Zuniga and Capuchin friar Antonio de Arteaga smuggled grapevines out of Spain and planted them at San Antonio de Padua Mission at Senecu, a Piro Indian pueblo near Socorro.

California, Arizona and Texas also have wine roots dating to the Spanish Missions. Phoebe Arnett, who lived in Stranger, Texas, in 1866, recalled a divine wine incident. Baptist deacons were serving communion when a young man remarked he wanted some. The deacon refused because the man was not a Baptist. “He comes back with, ‘Well I’m a Methodist. Besides this church belongs to us all.’ The deacon replied, ‘It may be your church, but this is our day, our time to hold service,’” she said. “…and the outcome was the Baptists built their own church….”

California’s mission grapes weren’t the best, and the 1849 Gold Rush brought a large influx of immigrants who appreciated good wine. Many went north to Napa and Sonoma Counties and planted vine clippings they had brought with them.

Oregon and Washington’s first wine grapes were planted at Fort Vancouver by the Hudson’s Bay Company in 1825. Peter Britt planted some of Oregon’s earliest vines at his Applegate Valley vineyard in 1858; the photographer called his winery Valley View. Adam Doerner opened his Umpqua Valley winery in 1888 and crafted a blended wine called Melrose Red.

Royal Muscadine grapes had grown with great success in Lewiston, Idaho, in 1865. In 1872 Frenchmen Louis Desol and Robert Schleicher and German immigrant Jacob Schaefer helped make Clearwater Valley known for its wines.

By the late 1840s, German settlers in Hermann, Missouri, were turning out more than 10,000 gallons of wine each year, which increased to two million by the 1880s. They planted Norton—the state grape—and the Concord.

Other states, like Montana and South Dakota, made fruit wine. Lizzie Miles, who moved to Superior, Montana, in 1891, remembered an Indian resident who enjoyed fruit wine. She recalled, “She used to smoke a corncob pine, the kind they make themselves…. She liked her drink pretty well and used to make raspberry wine. She’d say, ‘Um, good. Just pour down throat from bottle.’”

Anna Pésa Vojta, who arrived from Czechoslovakia and settled in Dakota Territory in 1876, made wines from berries in the region. Her great-great-granddaughter Sandi Vojta operates Prairie Berry Winery in Hill City, South Dakota. The best dessert to drink with her fruit wines is the kolache, a Czechoslovakian pastry that Sandi shares with us from a family recipe.

Prune/Apricot Filling

Take 1 cup of prunes and  cup dried apricots. Add enough water to cover fruit and let simmer in a small saucepan for about 30 minutes or until tender. Drain water. Finely chop fruit. Add   teaspoon allspice, cup sugar, one tablespoon lemon juice and one tablespoon grated lemon rind.


c. sugar

c. shortening (part butter)

1 tsp. salt

2 eggs

c. warm water

2 packages dry yeast

4 c. flour

Cream sugar, shortening, salt and eggs. Dissolve yeast in water and add to creamed mixture; add two cups of flour to yeast. Stir by hand (or beat on low speed). Stir in remaining flour. Let rise in warm place for 1  hours. Stir down and turn onto a well-floured board. Divide into 24 equal pieces.

Shape each piece into a round ball. Place onto a greased baking sheet. Cover with cloth and let rest about 15 minutes. Form each ball into a flat four-inch square. Place one tablespoon of fruit filling (Vojta family uses a prune and apricot filling) into the center. Bring opposite corners together. Moisten with milk, overlap about one inch and seal well. Let rise about 30 minutes.

In a 375-degree oven, bake kolaches for 15-18 minutes or until brown. Brush with melted butter and lightly dust with confectioners’ sugar. Serves 24 and can be eaten warm or cold.


Vojta family recipe courtesy Prairie Berry Winery

Sherry Monahan has penned California Vines, Wines & Pioneers, Taste of Tombstone, The Wicked West and Tombstone’s Treasure. She’s appeared on the History Channel in Lost Worlds and other shows.


In: Wine

Comments Off on Pumpkin Bog Label Artist to Sign Labels

Saturday, October 5,  Meet artist Winston Barclay at bottle signing, 12:00 to 2:00 PM

Have your bottle of Pumpkin Bog signed by Winston Barclay, whose photograph graces the label. He’ll be on site in the event room Saturday, October 5th from 12-2 p.m. Meet and greet the artist, view the exhibit of Winston’s artwork in Prairie Berry Winery’s event room, and enjoy lunch or appetizers from Prairie Berry’s Kitchen.

Winston Barclay recently retired to Hill City after more than three decades promoting the arts at the University of Iowa. He is now working with the Hill City Arts Council, and is a board member of the Black Hills Symphony Orchestra. His photography has been published in books, magazines and online, and may be viewed at His show runs at Prairie Berry Winery from October 1-31, 2013.


In: News, Prairie Berry

Comments Off on KNBN News: Toe Jam 2013

Toe Jam 2013 brought some Merlot stomping and a great day at Prairie Berry. KNBN, News Center 1 in Rapid City came up and tried their hand…er, feet…at grape stomping. You can see the video here. This is our second annual Toe Jam, and we plan to do it again next year! Look for another fun fall event at Prairie Berry next September when the grapes start to ripen.


In: News

Comments Off on South Dakota-Made Wine at State Fair

 We’ll be there! 

From the Yankton Press & Dakotan

South Dakota-Made Wine, Beer, Cheese Featured at State Fair

Posted: Thursday, August 22, 2013 10:12 pm

HURON — The South Dakota Wine Pavilion at the State Fair is becoming a tradition for some fairgoers.

This is the only venue in the state where people have the opportunity to taste samples from 11 of South Dakota’s wineries, several of the state’s breweries and eight cheese manufacturing plants in South Dakota.

The South Dakota Department of Agriculture (SDDA) and the winegrowers in South Dakota are working together to host this popular attraction at the Fair. Fairgoers can taste and purchase South Dakota wines, beer, cheese and other specialty food items, visit with these value-added businesses about their operations and learn more about the state’s growing industries. Participants will be able to pair the wine and beers with South Dakota cheese and other food products as well.

Tasting packages with more than 30 varieties of South Dakota wine and hand-crafted beers are available to purchase as well as beverages by the glass to enjoy in the wine garden. Wine-a-ritas, a refreshing blend of wine and margarita mix, will also be available.

This year the South Dakota Wine Pavilion will have many specials and features including a $5 savings on Border to Border wine tasting packages Thursday only, happy hour specials Thursday and Friday, and 25 percent off select cases on Monday.

“We work hard to create a very pleasant atmosphere for fairgoers to enjoy our state’s great wine, beer, cheese and specialty foods,” said Alison Kiesz, event organizer for SDDA. “We want consumers to learn more about agriculture and the industries represented in the pavilion.”

The 2013 State Fair runs Thursday, Aug. 29-Monday, Sept. 2. Preview day is Wednesday, Aug. 28. For more information on State Fair events, contact the Fair office at 800.529.0900 or visit You can also find the State Fair on Facebook and Twitter (@SDStateFair).


In: News, Prairie Berry

Comments Off on Sioux Falls Business Journal: Wineries…

Sioux Falls Business Journal: Wineries find growing taste


For the past three summers, guests at the Baumberger Vineyard Winery in rural Dell Rapids got the “farm-kitchen-table” experience.

The family made wine as a hobby for 15 years and slowly started a commercial winery in 2010, getting wine on some store shelves and invited visitors for sampling at the family home.

Sales are strong, owner Julie Baumberger said, and the family now wants to give guests a full winery experience. A tasting room will open later this month, and the winery will ramp up its marketing.

“You want this nice room people could sit in, ” Baumberger said. “There has been such good positive growth. It’s an important step for us to take.”

Baumberger, who serves as secretary and treasurer of the South Dakota Winegrowers Association, said her family’s story is a familiar one. Local industry followers said they expect more wineries to start in the state.

Commercial wine production in South Dakota is a relatively new form of agribusiness, made possible by the Farm Winery Act of 1996. The state has 26 licensed wineries, which produced 102,000 gallons of wine in 2012.

National wine industry analyst Doug Kelly from IBIS World said South Dakota is keeping up with the industry’s national growth. U.S. wine production is a $17.2 billion industry, growing 3.6 annually since 2008.

Increased wine consumption is fueling the industry, Kelly said. The country’s per capita wine consumption was 2.45 gallons a year five years ago. That has grown to 2.73 gallons, and Kelly said there’s more interest in drinking domestically produced wine.

“You’d think with the numbers of wines on the supermarket shelves we’d be reaching saturation, but it’s really fueled more growth,” he said. “There are a number of opportunities for wineries to enter and find their niche in the marketplace.”

Heather Taylor Boysen, owner and manager at Good Spirits Fine Wine & Liquor, has worked with South Dakota wineries since her business opened 15 years ago and said she has seen incredible growth.

She carries about 30 types of local wine made at five wineries and said they’re all selling – everything from sweet blueberry varieties to dry reds. Some customers will ask for the wines by name, having tried them at winery events.

“As a whole, they’re doing a better job of marketing the product to people in South Dakota,” Taylor Boysen said. “There’s a lot of new players I need to find space for on my shelf.”

The wine store owner said some local and regional wineries have their own sales staff and handle their own distribution, while others use distributors. She said she’s impressed by the sophistication in area winery facilities.

“It’s no longer a hobby that is being done in someone’s garage,” Taylor Boysen said. “It’s a market that’s really coming into their own.”

Ag-related tourism grows

In South Dakota, wineries also play a role in ag-related tourism, said Wanda Goodman, deputy secretary of tourism for the state.

“Our wineries have done the best job of carving out that niche with their tasting rooms and many hosted events,” she said. “It’s really a long tradition in South Dakota, and it’s fun to see the industry really get off the ground.”

A 2012 survey of tourists showed that 10 percent had come to South Dakota to visit wineries.

Prairie Berry Winery, based out of Hill City, traces its history back five generations to Czechoslovakian pioneers who brought their family tradition with them, co-owner Matt Keck said. Prairie Berry was the second to be licensed in the state and made its first wine in 30-gallon lots. Today, it produces 30,000 gallons at once.

Prairie Berry has shaped its business model to concentrate on retail sales and tourism. While the winery is located in the Black Hills, it hosts a wine club event in Sioux Falls four times a year. The winery is looking for more visibility in the city and will start weekly tasting events at retailers in the coming months, Keck said.

“We really look at the whole state in our plans,” he said. “A lot of people go to the Hills, but we want to make sure that they know they have the ability to buy the wines they like on a regular basis.”

Special events niche

The events business is a growing niche for many wineries.

Don South, owner of Strawbale Winery near Renner, wasn’t planning on making entertainment part of his business, but his model has evolved. Six years ago, an artist friend suggested the winery hold an event during the week for artists to sell their works.

(Full article)


In: Prairie Berry, Wine

Comments Off on 4th of July in the Black Hills

At Prairie Berry we grew up with those great 4th of July traditions –parades, lemonade, fireworks, good music, family and laughter. This 4th of July we want our guests to experience those moments of Americana that make us proud to be from the US of A.

July 4, 6 & 7 (Thursday, Saturday & Sunday)

  • Featured Drink Specials: Patriotic Poker Face Punch & Blue Suede Lemonade
  • Featured Dessert: Pineapple Upside Down Cake with Coconut Ice Cream
  • Kids’ Jumping Castle 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
  • Bring your lawn chair or picnic blanket!

Here are some photos from our Memorial Day celebration, which was very similar to what we’re planning for the 4th of July.



In: Heritage, Prairie Berry, Wine

Comments Off on A Dad to Share Things With

He didn’t tell me how to live; he lived, and let me watch him do it.
~Clarence Budington Kelland

When I was growing up, my dad, Ralph, was always watching for things. We’d go for a drive and he’d see a fox or a fruit tree or a flower, and he’d point it out to me. As I got older I started to realize that I was doing the same thing. I was paying attention to the details that a lot of people miss.

When my dad taught me to fly fish it was the same way. He’d say, “Think like a trout. If you were a trout, where would you be? Lay the fly where you think you’d be.” I’d do that and
BAM a trout would hit.

He made me conscious of things I wouldn’t otherwise think about. That’s become part of my personality and is an important element of my winemaking. It’s been hugely influential and I’m so thankful for that.

I’m very blessed to have a dad to share life’s details with.
~Sandi, Prairie Berry Winemaker