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Olympian Natalie Coughlin’s Favorite Autumn Dish

Cal alum, athlete, and winemaker Natalie Coughlin ’05 shares one of her go-to fall recipes.

November 7, 2022
Natalie Coughlin and Shaina Harding, owners of Gaderian Wines, pose with wine bottles from Gaderian Wines. Natalie Coughlin ’05 (left) with Gaderian Wines co-owner Shaina Harding (right). / Courtesy of Natalie Coughlin

After a successful professional athletic career, twelve-time Olympic medal winner Natalie Coughlin ’05 shifted gears. Coughlin grew up outside the Napa Valley and always had a passion for good wine and food. Entering the winemaking industry was a natural next step for the former swimmer. Gaderian Wines, which Coughlin co-owns with business partner Shaina Harding, is located in Napa Valley. Gaderian Wines is a proud participant of the Graduate Wine Collective, Cal Alumni Association’s alumni wine club.

Pair a Gaderian Wines pinot—perhaps their 2019 Sunset Knoll Pinot Noir—with Coughlin’s wild mushroom risotto, guaranteed to be a hit in your household this fall season. 

Wild mushroom risotto.
wild mushroom risotto / Courtesy of Natalie Coughlin

Wild Mushroom Risotto

The earthy mushrooms are a perfect match for the earthiness of our pinot, while the cooked and fresh thyme bring out the savory herbaceousness of the wine. This recipe can easily be made vegetarian by using vegetarian stock.


  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 lb chopped fresh mushrooms
  • salt
  • pepper
  • 1 diced onion
  • 4 cloves minced garlic
  • 2 cups arborio rice
  • 1 tbsp minced fresh thyme
  • 3/4 cup dry white wine
  • 1 quart chicken stock
  • 1 tbsp minced thyme
  • 1 cup parmesan cheese
  • 2 tbsp butter

Heat 4 tablespoons of olive oil in the base of a heavy-bottomed pot over high heat. Add 1 pound chopped, fresh wild mushrooms (I used oyster mushrooms), season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally until excess moisture has evaporated and mushrooms are well browned, about 8 minutes.

Add 1 diced onion and 4 cloves of minced garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until onions are softened and aromatic, about 4 minutes. Add 2 cups of arborio rice and cook, stirring, until rice is evenly coated in oil and toasted but not browned, 3 to 4 minutes. (Rice grains should start to look like tiny ice cubes: translucent around the edges and cloudy in the center.) Add 1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme. Season with salt and pepper.

Add 3/4 cup dry white wine and cook, stirring, until the raw alcohol smell has cooked off and the wine has almost fully evaporated, about 2 minutes. Scrape any browned bits off the bottom of the pot.

Add 1 ladle of warm chicken stock and stir constantly. When the liquid is absorbed add another ladleful. Repeat until 1 quart of chicken stock is absorbed into the risotto. Add 1 tablespoon minced thyme, 1 cup of Parmesan cheese and 2 tablespoons of butter. Turn off the heat and cover the pot. Let rest for five minutes.

Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve immediately on hot plates, passing extra cheese at the table.

Learn more about Gaderian Wines on their website and Instagram

Enjoy tasting fine wines and supporting the Cal Alumni Association? Join us in celebrating incredible alumni-made wines by signing up for The Graduate Wine Collective, UC Berkeley’s alumni wine club. Members receive three shipments of wine each year and exclusive invitations to wine-tasting events.

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