After nine years and millions invested in trying, a family has grown the first-ever black truffle to sprout in Geyserville, and these Sonoma County truffles may soon be a mainstay in northern California fine dining.
Up until 1987, it was universally considered that incredibly fancy fine dining delicacy truffles could not be grown outside of France, Italy, or Spain. That all changed that year when Menocino County “Vietnam veteran turned pot farmer” William Griner successfully harvested the first truffle ever grown in North America, setting off the “hunt for black gold” that is California truffle farming.
Truffle farmers often require a decade or more of trying before they even get their first truffle. That was the experience of the Angerer family of Geyserville, who’d bought an eight-acre farm, planted the requisite hazelnut trees, hired pricey consultants, and traveled Europe to get advice from the top minds in the industry. For nine long years, this brought them absolutely no results whatsoever.
Until the Monday after this past Thanksgiving.
Check out this very happy dog and even-happier Seth Angerer of Geyserville. The dog is a Lagotto Romagnolo, an Italian breed bred specifically to hunt truffles. And Seth Angerer is about to become a kingmaker among wine country restaurants, as the Los Angeles Times reports they found the first ever truffle grown in Anderson Valley, a globally recognized viticultural area.
Geyserville, Sonoma farm finds first truffle https://t.co/UfACQUXDUf— Pablo Blanco (@PWhiteesq) December 24, 2021
The truffle itself is fairly large by truffle standards, at 5.2 ounces. These black truffles tend to fetch about $95 an ounce, so at $500, it seems little return on a huge investment. But once they have one, they know they can grow hundreds more, and chefs across wine country are already calling them.
“It’s game-changing,” chef Jason Azevedo of the Little River Inn told the Times. “It’s exciting to have something where I can go walk the grounds every now and then and have a personal relationship with the grower instead of me ordering truffles that are probably frozen or packed in rice from far away.”
“To have a local source that was of quality to add to our menu would help us bring another level of service to our guests,” Azevedo added.
The now-successful truffle farmers are thrilled that their fruitless, near-decade-long obsession is finally bearing the rare and pricey fungus.
“It’s a huge investment to maintain with no product for nine or 10 years,” Fran Angerer told Sonoma Magazine. “Every truffle grower goes through a time when you start asking yourself if you’re crazy. You start having a bad attitude going into the hunt, but then all of the sudden, there it is.
“That’s the truffle experience.”
Related: Black Truffles Are The New Foie Gras, Says The French Laundry [SFist]
Image: Angerer family