With five generations of family lineage handcrafting beverages in South Dakota, and with 15 years as Winemaker and owner of Prairie Berry Winery, Brewmaster Sandi Vojta is inspired by the traditional brewing styles of her family’s European heritage.
From a young age, Sandi found herself on an exciting path of discovery and creativity. Growing up near Mound City, South Dakota, she learned both the hard work – and the joys – to be found living in a rural community. At the age of four, she would follow her dad, Ralph, out to pick chokecherries in the field. Ralph wanted the wild fruit to try and recreate the flavor memory of his Grandmother’s chokecherry wine; something he’d been trying to nail down for years. After collecting enough fruit, he set to work with the yeast. With his youngest daughter in tow, he decided to give Sandi her own bucket and yeast, to let her “play”, as well. It was at that moment which her love of exploration and creativity using the regional fruits and ingredients was born!
As a young girl, she keenly understood how the different fruits and the timing of harvest could impact the smell, texture, and of course, taste of the beverages she was creating alongside her father. Sandi absorbed every detail as she began to help her dad in his own winemaking adventure. Today, Ralph still works with his daughter in both the winery and brewery; the family tradition continues!
As a young woman, Sandi pursued chemistry and biology degrees at South Dakota State University and eventually met her husband, Matt Keck there. Together, with a desire to create a truly “unique South Dakota experience,” and to allow Sandi to continue with her passion for handcrafting beverages, Prairie Berry Winery was born. 15 years later, Miner Brewing was a natural evolution for the couple. Sandi says, “My dad likes to say I have the ability to imagine a taste, then create that taste. Well, for about the past five years, I’ve been imagining and creating new tastes — in beer. But just to share with friends and family. It was a creative outlet while still making wine for my day job!” she laughs. “Now, with Miner Brewing, I’m so happy to share those beers with all of our guests. I hope they enjoy them as much as I enjoy creating them.”