Try This at Home: Amateur Winemaker Makes Mark

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Ann Arbor amateur winemaker Ed Hissock has won awards for his wines. Courtesy photo

Ann Arbor’s Ed Hisscock is using his self-taught experience to explore the world of winemaking.

A supply chain manager for Trinity Health, Hisscock first got started four years ago when his wife, Carol, bought him a winemaking kit for Christmas.

“The first batch I made was a Malbec,” he says. “I just followed the directions and thought I could do better. I realized that if I had the right tools, I could really make the wine my own.”

Hisscock has always loved drinking wine and found an appreciation for the process while traveling to multiple wineries across the country. He produces anywhere from 12 to 24 gallons of wine annually, specializing in reds and focusing heavily on Cabernet and Merlot. He alternates between using fresh grapes and winemaking kits that come complete with juices.

“Making wine is unique and it’s something that I made and it will never be made again,” Hisscock says. “It’s all small-batch and I love sharing it.”

In the last two years, Hisscock has participated in the International Amateur Wine Competition. Entries come from all 50 U.S. states, five Canadian provinces and six other countries, with 2,305 wines entered in 2019. Hisscock has submitted five wines and taken three awards for his Riesling, Red Zinfandel and Petite Sirah. This year’s awards dinner was held at the Grand Traverse Resort and Spa in Traverse City.

Amateurs are submitting wines for other competitions as well. For example, the Indy International Wine Competition sees a number of home winemaker submissions — and medalists, including several from Michigan — whose quality has increased dramatically.

“The wines are clear, filtered properly, have a great aroma and are blended accurately,” says Jill Blume, executive director of the competition and member of the Purdue University Wine Grape Team. “Everyone wants a recipe, but there’s no right way to make wine. It’s always best for home winemakers to enter a competition where judges provide results so they know how to improve for next time.”

That’s what motivated Hisscock to turn to competitions.

“The tasters provide you with notes about what could’ve been done better and what you should try next to improve,” he says. “I was just looking for feedback and ended up with two silver medals and a bronze.”

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