Hill City, SD, Aug 28, 2012 -- Prairie Berry Winery broke ground today for the expansion of their winery near Hill City, S.D, which will double the size of the existing building. Matt Keck and Sandi Vojta, owners of Prairie Berry led a tour of the facility and shared the expansion plans. The building project will allow for a 150 percent increase in wine production capacity, a redesign and remodel of the existing tasting room, significantly expanded parking and a centralized water treatment and storage system to support the increased size of the facility. This expansion was made possible by a USDA Rural Development Guaranteed Business and Industry loan in partnership with Great Western Bank in Rapid City.
"The skill and passion of Matt and Sandi is evident by what they have accomplished in this business venture and the proposed expansion. Lending for a specialty business is somewhat difficult for local banks and that is where our program can make a difference and share the risk with the lender” said USDA Rural Development State Director Elsie M. Meeks. “This project support President Obama’s commitment to create jobs and promote economic growth which will provide financial returns and add value for South Dakota agricultural producers, businesses and families.”
Over the last 13 years, Prairie Berry Winery has grown from a basement in Mobridge, S.D. to its current state-of-the-art facility. Prairie Berry wines are made by fifth generation South Dakota winemaker Sandi Vojta, whose great-great grandparents immigrated to South Dakota from Czechoslovakia in 1876. They brought their winemaking tradition to South Dakota and applied it to the native fruit. Vojta still uses many of the fruits her great-great grandmother used to make wines that are popular with people from all over the world.
This expansion will allow Vojta to increase the production of all Prairie Berry’s wines, including those that feature native fruit, like chokecherries and buffalo berries, which are picked by hand in South Dakota. “I am excited to have more space to make the wines that showcase how unique South Dakota is,” Vojta said. “We’ve developed some really strong relationships with local growers and pickers and I look forward to creating more of those connections as our demand for South Dakota fruit increases.” Since 2001, Prairie Berry wines have earned more than 700 awards in international wine competitions.
Prairie Berry markets their wine primarily through the tasting room near Hill City, but it is also available at retailers across South Dakota and can be shipped to many states. As Prairie Berry’s production capacity increases they anticipate expanding their presence online, which is a rapidly-growing market for wine.
“We are so thankful for the all the support and encouragement we’ve received from our local community,” Vojta said. “We look forward to continuing our relationship and giving back to the community by providing high paying jobs and exciting new opportunities. We appreciate every single person that has helped us in achieving our success.”
For additional information on RD projects, please visit Rural Development’s new interactive web map featuring program funding and success stories for fiscal years 2009-2011. The data can be found at: http://www.rurdev.usda.gov/RDSuccessStories.html.
President Obama’s plan for rural America has brought about historic investment and resulted in stronger rural communities. Under the President’s leadership, these investments in housing, community facilities, businesses and infrastructure have empowered rural America to continue leading the way – strengthening America’s economy, small towns and rural communities. USDA’s investments in rural communities support the rural way of life that stands as the backbone of our American values. President Obama and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack are committed to a smarter use of Federal resources to foster sustainable economic prosperity and ensure the government is a strong partner for businesses, entrepreneurs and working families in rural communities.
USDA, through its Rural Development mission area, has an active portfolio of more than $172 billion in loans and loan guarantees. These programs are designed to improve the economic stability of rural communities, businesses, residents, farmers and ranchers and improve the quality of life in rural America.