Wine Cap Mushrooms are grown in North America and in Europe. They were first brought over to France to be grown in home gardens. They began spreading as a “garden escape” and have now (2004) been spotted in places as diverse as the Munster Valley, Strasbourg and Brognard, thriving particularly in the mulch of garden beds in public places and beside roadways. The mushrooms love to grow in cultivated or disturbed areas.
To grow Wine Cap Mushrooms deliberately, they can be cultivated on various mixtures of hardwood chips, sawdust, straw and compost.
Their caps are wine-coloured when young, fading to tan or yellowish-brown as they mature. The cap can crack as the mushroom grows. When fully mature, the cap can easily be 6 inches wide (15 cm) or more. The gills underneath the cap are white when the mushrooms are young, turning to purplish-grey then black as the mushroom ages.
The stalk, which has a ring on it, can be 2 1/2 to 6 inches tall (7 to 15 cm.)
The flesh inside is firm and white.
You can buy Wine Cap Mushroom spawn to seed your garden with and start growing your own. Some commercial cultivation has also started. It is uncertain (as of 2004) whether Wine Caps will emerge as the next gourmet mushroom.
Best eaten young, before the gills have darkened.
There has been at least 1 reaction to it reported, in New Jersey in 1999. Italian mushroom people still are leery of it (as of 2004) and are advising against eating it.
Probably native to North America (though some feel otherwise). Brought to France in 1969 and has spread since then in Europe as a garden escape.