Over a beer at their kitchen table, Sandi Vojta and her husband Matt Keck discussed their desire to create a truly “unique South Dakota experience.” With an affinity for the Midwest, a love of local, seasonal ingredients, and a desire to carry on a five-generation tradition of handcrafting beverages in South Dakota, the answer was clear. On that day, Prairie Berry Winery was born.
Fifteen years later, with this same vision in mind, Miner Brewing Company was opened in 2013. As Brewmaster, Sandi’s goal is to craft beers that people can enjoy every day, something familiar that they can relate to. She brings meticulous care to the process and closely monitors quality at each step of creating our beer. She emphasizes keeping her beer fresh by using local ingredients when possible and heavily relies on the water on-site. According to Sandi, the water is the most important ingredient in crafting Miner Brewing Company’s beers: “It’s from the water that we get our unique flavors and our distinctive style.”
In 2018, we opened the doors at the Miner Brewing Company and Prairie Berry Winery Taproom in Sioux Falls, bringing our award-winning wines and an array of craft beers to our friends on the Eastern side of the state. Located in the Western Mall, our Sioux Falls taproom also features a small-batch pilot brewing system for brewmaster Sandi to develop new beers.
With a selection of year-round beers crafted to reflect the more traditional, European-inspired styles, as well as a unique selection of specialty and seasonal beers, Sandi hopes to showcase as much of the uniqueness of South Dakota as possible. By staying true to her heritage and family legacy, but innovating through regional ingredients and recipes, she is excited to be a part of the craft beer and beverage movement which so many are enjoying today.
Fifth-generation Winemaker Sandi Vojta grew up near Mound City, South Dakota. Her great-great-grandmother, Anna Pesä, immigrated to the Dakota Territory in 1876 from Moravia (now a part of the Czech Republic). On the South Dakota prairie, Anna used the local fruits she called ‘prairie berries’ to create wine for her family.
After graduating with chemistry and biology degrees from South Dakota State University, Sandi, along with her father and husband, set out to create a unique South Dakota experience by way of a family tradition of winemaking. They founded Prairie Berry Winery in 1999 in a 500 sq. ft. basement.
Today, from a 20,000 sq. ft. state of the art wine production facility in the Black Hills of South Dakota, Prairie Berry Winery has grown into one of the most successful wineries in the region, winning over 1,000 awards and produces some of the most popular and award-winning wines in the Midwest, including the widely acclaimed Red Ass Rhubarb.
Fifteen years after starting Prairie Berry Winery, the natural next step for Sandi and her husband was opening Miner Brewing Company in 2013, located next door to the winery near Hill City. The following year, they expanded east to Sioux Falls, South Dakota and opened Prairie Berry East Bank. Four years later, they moved across Sioux Falls to the Western Mall and reopened as Miner Brewing Company and Prairie Berry Winery Taproom.
In both her wines and beers, Sandi wants to showcase as much of the uniqueness of South Dakota as possible using local ingredients when she can. From local honey to handpicked wild fruits such as chokecherries, buffaloberries, and rosehips to indigenous yeast and hops, it all comes from South Dakota; even the wheat for her Wheat beer comes from her family farm near Mobridge, SD.
For Winemaker and Brewmaster Sandi, “Beer-making is another form of creating an experience for people. Another media for me to use to bring forward my heritage. For example, winemaking is like working with acrylic and creating beers is like working with watercolor. Creating and sharing these beverages is truly who I am and what I love to do.”