As a pioneer in the wild mushroom business, Connie Green founded Wine Forest Wild Foods in 1981 and continues to provide the very best wild and tamed foods available throughout the United States. They forage for some of the most applauded restaurants including the prestigious The French Laundry and proudly provide for many of the country's finest chefs and artisanal markets.
What Inspired You To Start Your Company?
My love of foraging goes back to my grandparents’ farm where berries, wild grapes, and sassafras were commonly harvested by us. I went to college in Wisconsin in the late sixties and joined the spring farmer ritual of morel hunting. Later, my marriage to a mushroom hunting Estonian immigrant and our move to rural Napa opened the door to wild mushrooms. I’ve been harvesting wild mushrooms and providing mushrooms to chefs every since.
Tell us about your products.
We primarily provide superb fresh and dried mushrooms to restaurant chefs. My horror at the terrible dried mushrooms available to the public in stores lead to creating our line of dried mushrooms for the public. These are the same quality used by the countries best chefs. The publication of my book, The Wild Table, lead to expanding our line of wild foods to include our Good Food Award winning shrubs and pickles.
What Does Being A Small-Batch “Artisan” Mean To You?
It means that we gather and package all our products ourselves. Every aspect is under our careful quality control.
What is your favorite small-batch treat?
It changes all the time. Right now, it’s our Wild Huckleberry Shrub. I’ve been making cocktail recipes with it almost daily.
What Drew You To Food?
Growing up with farming as part of our family tradition and a unstoppable love of great eating.
Where Does Your Food Inspiration Come From?
What Products Are You Working On Now?
We’re starting to develop wild food vinegars. One is terribly exciting but must remain a secret for now.
Do You Have a Favorite Product?
This is the old, “what’s your favorite child” question. I do have a special fondness for our Wild Juniper Berry Rub. It is unbelievably good on fatty pork or salmon.
Latest Ingredient Obsession?
Dried persimmons from our trees are keeping me orange fingered.
What Did You Have For Dinner Last Night?
What Person, Living Or Dead, Would You Most Like To Have Try Your Product?
No doubt, Julia Child. I was around here during a rural show shoot years ago. I came out of the woods with chanterelles and she was over the moon with them. She was even more remarkable a person than you might think.
What’s The Best Piece Of Advice You’ve Gotten In Building Your Business? What Advice Would You Give Other artisans?
Gather business knowledge. The best products in the world will not live unless you develop some business survival skills.
What Other Local Food Artisans or Chefs Do You Admire?
Thomas Keller is still the hardest working chef I’ve ever known. Staffan Terje at Perbacco has an excitement and curiosity about food that is unparalleled. Steve Sando (Rancho Gordo) is my neighbor and friend. He’s taken the unlikely bean and turned it into a sexy beast.
If You Had To Choose Your Last Meal, What Would It Be?
As a southerner, pork barbeque is the food I couldn’t leave this world without.
Favorite Restaurant or Food Experience?
Probably any of my five hour lunches at The French Laundry.
What Do You Enjoy Doing Outside of the Kitchen?
Eating in other countries.
What’s Your Favorite Kitchen Soundtrack?
Probably the bluegrass of the Kruger Brothers