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Truffle mania

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Articles - April 2012
Thursday, March 22, 2012
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Truffle mania
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// Photo by Leah Nash

To date, Lefevre has planted about a dozen truffieres in Oregon, and many in other states. One of his customers is Jim Bernau, founder and president of Willamette Valley Vineyards. Bernau recently hired Lefevre to plant three acres of truffle trees on land near Tualatin. He serves on the Oregon Truffle Festival’s advisory board and his winery is a longtime festival sponsor.

Bernau also bankrolled the 2009 feasibility study because he felt the nascent truffle industry needed the sort of guidance that Ted Casteel’s popular tome, Oregon Winegrape Growers’ Guide, provided early Oregon winemakers. As far as he’s concerned, Oregon wine and Oregon truffles go hand in hand. “The pairing of pinot noir and truffle-infused food is just perfect,” says Bernau. “They’re meant to be with each other.”

From a tourism standpoint, truer words were never spoken. To Holly MacFee, Travel Oregon’s vice president for Global Brand Strategy, the pairing of Oregon wine and Oregon truffles is a winning proposition for the state. “We’re lucky to have truffles because they really do elevate our reputation as a culinary destination,” she says.

The state does its part to promote the truffle industry through advertising, such as the 15-second spot filmed by Wieden+Kennedy as part of Travel Oregon’s Oregon Bounty campaign that features a truffle hunter and his dog seeking fungal treasures in the forest. Oregon truffles also will be featured at Feast Portland, a food event already getting national attention that’s planned for Sept. 20-23. Mike Thelin, one of the event organizers, says local truffles will impress attendees of the keystone event on Sept. 22, “Porklandia.”

“When people come from other places, they know we have pinot, they know we have pork, they know we have beer, they know we have great chef talent,” says Thelin. “And then they find out, oh, you have truffles too? It’s like, does it ever end? What’s next? Local bananas and pineapple?”

 



 

Comments   

 
Michael Vaughn
0 #1 Oregon Truffles Unsustainable, for NowMichael Vaughn 2012-04-09 22:59:50
I found this to be an excellent article on Oregon’s “emerging” truffle industry. However, as a recreational truffle harvester for the past seven seasons, I have seen first-hand the damage done to private and public property by unscrupulous people. This article, as well as Lefevre’s coauthored feasibility report, downplays this scourge on the industry.

Most of this damage comes from commercial harvesters not harvesting in ethical ways. Meth-heads and commercial crews are there for one thing: to harvest as many truffles as they can, in the shortest amount of time, and with the least effort. Money is all that matters; to hell with ethics and the environment – as well as quality truffles.

NATS, the Oregon Truffle Festival organization, the State of Oregon, chefs, and consumers share the blame for this atrocious act. As it stands right now, the Oregon truffle industry is unsustainable, and those wanting to promote (i.e. make money) this industry ignore this fact.
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