Queenstowner Graeme Rodwell claims to be the world’s southern-most truffle producer.
A truffle hound recently sniffed out 110 grams of the pungent and elusive delicacy below an oak tree on his Lower Shotover property.
Rodwell planted 195 truffle-infected oak and hazelnut trees eight years ago but says “the thought of the truffiere actually producing truffles was stored well in the background”.
Last month, a Christ-church truffle grower and his dog came down to check out six Central Otago truffieres.
Truffles were found only on his property and another at Hawea – both growers had established Bianchetti white truffles rather than the more common black ones.
“I went for white as I knew they were a lot more aggressive and hardier for marginal areas like this,” Rodwell says.
Truffles sell for about $3700 a kilo to top-end restaurants but Rodwell says he’s only ever been an enthusiast.
“As a student, I travelled to Italy on a truffle research trip but nothing eventuated due to lack of resources and funding.”
Rodwell believes he’s the 11th truffle producer in New Zealand.