Why go to France when you have the Tamar
Truffle farming is a high-risk, long-term investment. Seventeen years ago, John Baily convinced his partner’s mother to take a gamble and plant 3000 oak trees on her property in Tasmania’s Tamar Valley.
It was five years before they found the first perigord truffle growing amid their trees, and 10 years before Tamar Valley Truffles – 15 minutes out of Launceston – produced an income from the prized black fungi, which sell for $1000-$8000kg.
At Tamar Valley Truffles, which is open for tours by appointment, manager Marcus Jessup says Australian truffles are as good as the European ones, but there’s still the snob factor.
“It’s a bit like champagne,” he says. “The Spanish are the biggest growers of truffles, but the French sell the most.”
The climate in Tasmania is similar enough to France to grow truffles, but that’s not the only parallel. The northeast corner of the island is so like the Champagne region that French champagne house Louis Roederer was a part-owner in the Jansz vineyard from the late ’80s to the early ’90s, and even sent one of its vignerons to teach the Australians how to make sparkling wine.
Jansz Wine Room manager Maxine Harris says the climate was so perfect and the demand for Tasmanian sparkling was so great that the original owners pulled out their other vines and replaced them with chardonnay and pinot noir. On the top of the hill on rich red soil, they get full sun and good drainage. You can see Bass Strait in the