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Northern California can soon count itself among the major truffle producing regions in the world if the current harvest is anything to go by.
Truffles are not native to North America and they haven’t been grown there until recently because of the tuber requires a very specific set of conditions in order to meet maturity.
Recently however, trees, whose roots were impregnated with spores of the black truffle have been bearing tubers. In fact, the plantings, which have gone back 7 or eight years, in order to present truffles today, have been so successful that some claim that Northern California, with its vineyard and orchard ecosystem could produce a regular harvest big enough to make it a significant producer.
Stories of truffles turning up in Northern California have been plentiful this winter with one Placerville farm selling its first one-pound truffle to restaurant. One ten year old Santa Rosa found its first truffle, while another one nearby owned by owned by Jackson Family Wines, unearthed an incredible 25 pounds of the highly-prized black, or Périgord truffles which are being served in such San Francisco restaurants as Saison, Birdsong and Che Fico.
The truffle harvest in Italy has been unusually bountiful this year, because of the high rainfall, affecting the truffle price. But the tuber still sells for astronomical prices because of itsrarity. Now more and more people are turning to planting in the search of making them more widespread and available to more people.
Prince Philip became the first person to grow black truffles in the United Kingdom when he successfully harvested some from his orchard and the beginning of this year at Sandringham in Norfolk. It also represents the furthest north that a truffle has been growing and as the planet warms and precipitation increases indicates that truffles could be widely cultivated in the not-too-distant future.
Successful attempts to grow truffles have been carried out in Australia, New Zealand and China meaning a brave new world of truffles is opening up. The Holy Grail, however, remains the elusive white truffle, or trifola d'Alba Madonna ("Truffle of the White Madonna" in Italian), which is found mainly in Italy's Langhe and Montferrat areas and most famously in the Piedmont region, particularly in the areas surrounding Alba and Asti. No attempts to grow the white truffle have been successful and whoever figures that one out, stands to make a fortune.