It is considered one of the most popular of wineries in South Dakota with its products garnering close to 1,000 awards nationally, and internationally.
As we continue one of our favorite series 'Made in South Dakota', KSFY's Courtney Collen heads west to Prairie Berry to find out what makes it so special.
If there's anywhere in South Dakota to make wine, Prairie Berry Winery exceeds every expectation, sitting near Hill City in the breathtaking Black Hills.
Head of it, Sandy Vojta, a 5th generation winemaker who got her start at the young age of four, thanks to her dad.
"He used to take me picking, wild berries, choke cherries, tied a bucket to my waist. That's how I got my start. Passed down 5 generations here in the United States," Sandy Vojta said.
Today, Sandy's a jack-of-all-trades taking locally-grown fruit and turning it into wine.
"It is hand-picked, locally, wild fruit. Some of the first, if not the first, for so many of our wines to produce the style of wine. It's unique. You can only get it here, it's an amazing product," Vojta said.
Amazing? Absolutely. But, she admits, it hasn't been easy.
"We get a lot of people who are like 'ew, south Dakota wine?' It's like 'no way, can't be good. How can anything from here be good?' We've proven that we are excellent," Vojta said.
And once they stop in, those skeptical visitors are easily convinced this wine is something else.
"We saw this on our GPS. We like to try wineries, but a few times we've walked into something where we couldn't by any. It was awful. This is not the case at all here. We'll probably walk out with a few bottles of wine," visitor Lori Wirth said, from Stoughton, Wisconsin.
"It took a lot to overcome that. We're here, we're happy to be South Dakota and proud to be South Dakotan and producing wine," Vojta said.
It's not easy producing wine from things like choke cherries, buffalo berries and grapes in South Dakota. Even their flagship brand, Red Ass Rhubarb, the most award-winning, was an accident on account of her own dad.
"He hooked up the hose to the wrong tank. Started to blend Raspberry, Edlerberry and Rhubarb. When he finished, I said 'oh no what tank did you mix with the rhubarb?' He turned bright red. He felt like an ass. I said, 'Red Ass Rhubarb!'," she said.
Prairie Berry moved to the Hill City location in 2004 and have been so successful that they're now doubling production to produce more than 600,000 gallons or 60,000 cases of wine every year.
"To be as successful as we are, to have the customers we have, the loyalty we have. It's such a huge honor. To this day, when we have a customer purchasing, I am so thankful and grateful. I'm grateful for them taking it home to their families, to consume. Wow, what an honor," she said.
As the winery grows, getting national and international attention, there's one thing that remains the same: the product is, and always will be, made right here in South Dakota.
For more information about Prairie Berry winery or where to find their products, visit the link at the top-left corner of this page.
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