"Truffles are only really good after Christmas.....So let us allow ignorant fops, beardless gourmands, and inexperienced palates the perry triumph of eating the first truffles."
Grimod de La Reynière -1800's
200 years ago, and they already knew what's worth eating! Our first decent quality truffles appeared this week... Winter Solstice... equivalent of European Christmas! Well worth waiting for, although there was just a handful. Far better harvest is indicated for weekend/next week, then time for full season according to truffle dog Lani. She's already marked some of July's truffles which have aromas that would sorely tempt the early harvesters (and "beardless gourmands").
Welcome to Yarra Valley Truffles
We are currently Victoria's biggest producer of black truffle, as well as producers of Victoria's biggest truffle. (it's also the worlds biggest Perigord Black Winter Truffle 1.5kg, August 2016)
Located one hour from Melbourne, in volcanic red soil amongst the undulating hills of Victoria's Yarra Valley, and surrounded by vineyards, the cool climate is similar to the Perigord region of France from where the Black Winter Truffle (Tuber melanosporum) originates. Cold winters, warm summers and high rainfall of the Yarra Valley region are beneficial to both truffle and wine production. The truffiére was planted in 2006 and commenced initial production in 2011 at 5 years of age.
Since then, harvest volume has continued to increase annually, reaching commercial (full time workload) quantities in 2015, at 9 years of age. With continuous observation and research into all aspects of truffle growing, productive areas/trees are continuing to expand further each year.
Our goal is to produce and market the highest quality truffles possible. Ripening truffle is first located, then further monitored until reaching peak quality. Although labour intensive, this approach ensures the truffles are unearthed at peak aroma and flavour.
The truffiére is maintained organically, promoting a fully natural, healthy soil & environment. No fertilisers or herbicides are used.
Currently the season is looking great. A cool summer with reasonably frequent rainfall has seen a greener than normal season. This has meant the trees are more active and have been supplying a greater amount of carbohydrates for truffle size increase throughout Feb-April(May). Oak trees have formed their acorns and the tree's resources are now available for truffle development, most newly discovered producers this month are oaks.
Near surface signs first commenced a little earlier in mid-January, and now in April there's again a significant increase in overall harvest volume (if it survives to maturity). There are already 23 newly producing trees, many in previously non-active areas of the orchard, taking overall truffle bearing trees to 32.9% of those planted in the truffle orchard.
Current maintenance is promoting survival rate of known truffles, finding new signs and removing rotten.
Other tasks time permitting, processing & coolroom facilities, preparation for farm gate truffle sales in the 2017 truffle season, with evenings for website, market planning & development, etc.
Current week is revealing many initial aroma's and ripening signs -updated 24/5/17
The 2016 season was severely delayed and affected by a late winter and high median temperatures compared with previous 5 seasons. Full volume harvesting was delayed until late July, yet still concluded in early September.
Overall truffle production was close to triple 2015 volume, but this increase was fully negated by the season's abnormal weather.
A very dry December/January was followed by high rainful in Autumn. Developed management techniques from past seasons dealt with this, and 90% of the crop was intact at start of season (compared with past average of 40% to 60% intact). However the warm winter ultimately caused further 75% losses with final ripe harvest only equaling the 2015 volume.
The number of producing trees increased to 29% of the orchard, with clear signs of further improvement in future.
The 2015 truffle season ran throughout July & August, with a few final truffles for Father's Day in September. Cold May/June weather had surprisingly little effect on season start, with properly ripe truffles again commencing in early July. Weekly production continued to increase through July, and tapered off sharply after a mid-August warm spell.
A cool start to summer with sufficient rain kicked off the growth cycle well. February/March saw surface truffles start appearing and there was a 50% increase in the number of productive trees to 24.9%. There was also a nice harvest of hazelnuts.
Previous Seasons 2011-14
Initial production commenced in 2011 at Year 5 with a couple of kilograms of saleable truffle, outweighed by rot/insect/surface damaged. The next few years saw an improvement in harvest amounts, with saleable yield approximately doubled each year for 2012/13/14/15. Different rot/damage issues with insects and weather presented each season, leading to development of cultivation techniques. There was continued improvement of both canine and human skills with both locating truffle & identifying optimal ripeness.