Robert Chang with Dr. Paul Thomas

Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Truffles

Robert Chang and Paul Thomas of the American Truffle Company with an edible findRobert Chang and Dr. Paul Thomas of the American Truffle Company with an edible find.

Attention future truffle farmers! Or wannabe truffle farmers. While the Napa Truffle Festival is primarily a series of delectable events for foodies and truffle fans to enjoy truffles, there is one day specifically for people who are considering growing truffles. I had a chat with Robert Chang, one of the founders of the American Truffle Company and the lead presenter of the festival to learn more about it…

Tell me more about the Scientific Grower Truffle Cultivation Seminar day
Robert Chang (RC): It’s specifically designed for people who want to grow truffles as opposed to just foodies. We are going to cover 3 broad areas—the science of truffle cultivation in the morning, then the business of growing truffles, the economics. and finally the dog training so we’ll actually have a dog trainer and will share the fundamentals. Then the field component takes you out to see the Robert Sinskey Vineyard Truffle Orchard. It’s a working truffle farm. During the tour there will be the truffle dog training demonstration with CPDT-KA dog trainer Alana McGee.

CPDT-KA dog trainer Alana McGee with dogCPDT-KA dog trainer Alana McGee

Who should consider getting into truffle growing, what’s required?
RC: Typically we (American Truffle Company) work with potential growers by getting very involved. Instead of being a consultant we become a partner and stay involved throughout the lifetime of the orchard. We ask that the minimum is 5 acres to be planted. People might not come with land in their possession but want to learn about it. We share with them the particulars regarding climate, soil and geography even if they don’t have land yet so they know what’s required.

What will be the key takeaways for the day?
RC: How to assess growing truffles from a business standpoint—does it make economic sense?
Considerations of various scientific elements and work involved, how much labor is involved. It’s less than you might think, especially if you are familiar with the wine business. Without giving away too much, it’s knowledge intensive but not labor intensive.

What are some of the more memorable aspects of the day?
RC: The experience of a dog leading you to where a truffle has matured and pinpoint and dig it up is one of the highlights of the day.

Because we take a partnership approach, it’s important to know who we are. The day gives attendees the opportunity to put a face to the name and see what it’s like to interact with us.
We’ve been working with the Sinskey’s for 6 years, attendees will hear what it’s like over time and be able to ask questions.

Thanks Robert, see you at the seminar on Friday!

Tickets are still available for the Scientific Grower Truffle Cultivation Seminar at the Westin and Truffle Orchard Tour at Robert Sinskey Vineyards Truffle Orchard being held Friday January 13 from 9 am – 5 pm.
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Everything You Always Wanted to Know About TrufflesAmy Sherman
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