Visit Tamar Valley and discover a veritable feast of amazing producers – from wineries like our own Holm Oak, to dairy and honey farms and fresh fruit and vegetable growers. One of our top-shelf producers is Tamar Valley Truffles, located on Lake Trevallyn about 40 minutes south of Holm Oak, and only 15 minutes from Launceston CBD in Northern Tasmania.
What is a truffle?
The truffle is one of those highly covetable products crafted by Mother Nature – its arresting aroma and pungent flavour prompt foodies and chefs to refer to this fungi as “the diamond of the kitchen”. Restaurants pay thousands of dollars per kilogram for these magical foodie delights. But do you know how they actually grow? A truffle is the fruiting body of a subterranean fungus, one of the many species of the genus Tuber. In the right conditions, when the stars align, these fungi grow on the roots of trees. One of the factors in making the stars align in truffle production is ensuring you have the right tree and the right fungus.
Where do they grow?
Successful truffle cultivation requires hot summer temperatures and cold winter temperatures – climate is probably the primary issue. As a general rule, a mean daily temperature of about 20 degrees in January and mean daily temp of about 5 degrees in July is desirable. Therefore, Tasmania’s climate makes it the perfect breeding ground for the truffle.
Given truffles are fungi, they are usually found in close proximity to the roots of trees. Which trees? Certain species are best for truffle growth, including beech, poplar, hazel, birch, pine and oak.
Tamar Valley Truffles boasts 3000 oak trees planted over eight hectares of fertile north Tasmanian terroir. Quercus Robur (regular common deciduous English oak) and Quercus Ilex (a prickly leaf much like a small holly leaf) are planted alternately on the property. As an aside, Quercus Ilex is the botanical name for the Holm Oak tree, which is why Holm Oak Wines uses the name Ilex for one of our ranges of wines.
Like all truffle estates, some trees produce more frequently and more prolifically than others. Tamar Valley Truffles employs the use of a computer system to monitor each tree individually, showing the production in each row and the yield of that tree. With overlays it’s easy to see the rapid expansion of the production of the truffle plantation. Harvesting occurs at different times throughout the year depending on region and truffle species, but in Tassie, harvest period begins at the onset of winter through to September.
When did truffle production begin in Tassie?
In the early 1990s, after years of planning, a group of truffle aficionados decided to inoculate Tasmanian trees with the truffle fungus in the hope of creating a local truffle industry. Their hopes were well founded and instincts proved right. The first Australian truffles were harvested in Tasmania in 1999. Their success and the value of the subsequent truffles have encouraged a boutique industry to develop.
Tamar Valley Truffles is one of the most productive truffières (the French word for a truffle plantation) in Australia and the truffles that result from this producer’s hard work end up in restaurants and homes all over the country.
Head to Tamar Valley Truffle’s website to discover more about our fellow Tassie producer and to purchase its amazing delights, from truffle honey, cheddar and butter to truffle risotto, sea salt and brie.