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South Dakota Winery Wins in Giant Competition

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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