The Napa Valley Truffle Association was founded in 2006 after local Napa farmers planted their first filbert trees on the Valley floor. Additional trees were planted in three successive years and this first known Napa Valley “trufflecultier” conducted their first hunt in January 2011.
The idea that the tuber melanosporum will thrive, or even grow in Napa Valley will hopefully prove true in the years ahead, or, it may very well be folly.
But we, The Napa Valley Truffle Association, who so appreciate the difficult-to-describe earthy aroma and flavor of fresh truffles are hopeful that we will be on our knees in our own champs truffiers some day soon!
Black Périgord Truffle
The “black truffle” (Tuber melanosporum) is named after the Perigord region of France where black truffles grow wild under the forests of oaks. Harvested in late autumn and winter, the French black truffle harvests average 44,000 lbs to 100,000 lbs in the best years.
- These French truffle markets are busiest in the month of January, when the black truffles have their highest perfume.
- There are now truffle-growing areas in the United States, Spain, Sweden, New Zealand, Australia, Chile and the UK.
- According to Dr. Charles Lefevre, of New World Truffles, there are approximately a dozen truffle fields in the U.S. producing commercially.
- Known Napa Valley truffle fields include Robert Sinskey’s recently planted property in Carneros with approximately 550 trees on 1.25 acres. A five-year-old, forty-tree orchard is planted and thriving hillside in St. Helena. And a 600-tree field exists near the town of Napa.
- No trees are producing yet.
To learn more about truffle cultivation, visit www.truffletree.com.
The Napa Valley Truffle Association comprises growers, vintners, chefs and a sprinkling of truffle lovers. Meetings are held quarterly (since 2007) at different venues, which have included San Francisco, Napa Valley, Alba and Panzano-in-Chianti, Italy. Member categories include: Trufflecultier, Connoisseur, and Aficionado and membership is private and confidential.
- The Italian “white truffle” or “Alba madonna” (Tuber magnatum) comes from the Langhe area of Piemonte, Italy and, most famously, in the countryside around the city of Alba. It has never been cultivated and only grows in the wild–making it more expensive than the black truffle.
- The French black truffle (Tuber melanosporum) has been successfully cultivated in France and Italy, and now in select locations around the world in truffle-fields, or, as the French call them, champs truffiers.
- Truffles grow symbiotically on the roots of oaks, filbert and chestnut trees up to 10” below the orchard’s surface.
- The female pig is a natural hunter of truffles. The aroma released by the ripe truffle is similar to the sex pheromone of boar saliva, to which the sow is keenly attracted. A pig, however, will fight you for the truffle. A trained dog will locate the truffle and then be satisfied with a crouton before hunting the next truffle. Hence a trained dog is a better hunter, and certainly man’s best friend for truffle hunting.