South Dakota winery wins big award

I’m not much of a wine guy, but I love Prairie Berry wine, which is made in Hill City. They make some wines using South Dakota ingredients that are unique and taste great, and they have a nice facility that’s open to visitors in the beautiful Black Hills.

Given my appreciation for Prairie Berry, I was thrilled when I saw the following news release:

HILL CITY, SD – In a recent wine competition in California’s wine country, an unexpected winery took a top prize. Prairie Berry Winery of Hill City, S.D., came home with a Best of Class (judges unanimous gold) award, and was further distinguished with a Judges Choice award, for their Red Ass Rhubarb wine, a semi-sweet blend of raspberry and rhubarb.
One of the 63 judges for the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition was Jessica Yadegaran, staff wine writer for the Bay Area News Group, the largest newspaper chain in Northern California. She notes in her “Corkheads” blog posting, “10 Things I learned from Judging the SF Wine Competition” as number 3, “I absolutely have to drink more fruit wines, particularly those from South Dakota’s Prairie Berry Winery. Everyone on my panel loved their sassy rhubarb wine.”
More than 4,900 wines were judged during the competition over five days, and Yadegaran also writes, “I’ve judged wines professionally. I’ve sat on blind tasting panels and swirled, sipped and spat my way to wine evaluation zen. But no competition tests your palate or has quite the consumer influence like the Chronicle Wine Competition does. The annual event is the largest competition of American wines in the world.”
Prairie Berry’s fifth generation winemaker, Sandi Vojta, says, “When you get a silver medal at the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition, it’s like getting a Double Gold at any other competition. It is a huge honor.”
In addition to the medals for Red Ass Rhubarb, Prairie Berry received a silver medal for their Phat Hogg Red, a dry red made with a Chambourcin grape, and a bronze for Phat Hogg Chardonnay, a dry white wine.
The family behind Prairie Berry Winery, located just outside of Hill City, S.D., has been crafting wines from South Dakota fruit since 1876. The winery’s name comes from the memory Vojta’s father has of his grandmother talking about the fruit she used to make her wine. In her broken English, they were “prairie berries” whether they were buffaloberries, chokecherries or wild plums. Prairie Berry’s Tasting Room is open to the public daily, year-round.
For more information on Prairie Berry Winery: or call 877-226-9453
For more information on the 2010 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition with photos at
For information about other South Dakota wines, click here for a previous post that I wrote on the topic.

About Author

Seth Tupper

Seth Tupper was born and raised in South Dakota and earned a bachelor's degree in journalism from South Dakota State University in 2001. After college, he worked at a newspaper in Minnesota and then returned to South Dakota in 2003 to join the staff of The Daily Republic in Mitchell, where he is currently the publisher. Seth has won numerous awards for his writing, including the 2007 Outstanding Young Journalist award in the daily newspapers category of the South Dakota Newspaper Association's Better Newspapers Contest. Seth's day-job and freelance work have granted him opportunities to meet hundreds of South Dakotans and travel across much of the state. He also spends a lot of his free time exploring South Dakota's state and national parks, hiking trails and kayak-friendly rivers.


  1. Cathy K
    Cathy K 21 June, 2011, 18:30

    Well deserved. I, like you Seth, don’t really like wine but I actually don’t mind Prairie Berry. Congrats to them – it’s a great accomplishment and great for our state.

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