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Truffles 101: Digging Into Truffle Season in Oregon Wine Country

By Becca Barnhart
What Are Truffles? | Where to Enjoy Truffles | Truffle Experiences

Wine might be the Willamette Valley's most famous export—we live in the middle of Oregon Wine Country, after all—but it's far from our only claim to culinary fame.

One of our greatest contributions to regional restaurants grows underground, is only ripe a few precious months each year, and requires a little assistance from a four-legged friend to find. Yes, the truffle is one of the most sought-after foods in the world—restaurants may pay $500 or more per pound for the forest-dwelling fungi—and it grows in forests all over the Willamette Valley.

Let’s dig into all the fuss behind the elusive Oregon truffle—with details on what truffles are, where you can enjoy them around the Willamette Valley, and how you can dive into local celebrations of the sought-after delicacy between January and April. 

A dog digs for truffles in a Willamette Valley forest.

Truffles are mushroom-like organisms that grow underground in the root systems of trees—including Douglas-fir, a common tree across the Willamette Valley. Most truffles are relatively bulbous in shape and, size-wise, fall somewhere between a walnut and a potato. 

Four native species of truffle grow in Oregon and are harvested for their culinary worth: the Oregon Winter White Truffle, the Oregon Spring White Truffle, the Oregon Black Truffle, and the Oregon Brown Truffle.

So popular are our truffles, in 2024, Oregon Governor Tina Kotek declared February to be Oregon Truffle Month. That proclamation recognized Oregon as one of the world's top five truffle-growing regions and underscored the importance of truffles to local ecosystems and economies.

These delicacies can generally be harvested between November and May, depending on the species, though a successful season is usually dictated by the previous summer's rainfall. Ripe truffles are usually noted by an exterior that feels firm after a light squeeze and an interior that resembles a marble.

Outside of Europe, the Willamette Valley is among the world's best regions for growing truffles, thanks to a cool climate, steady diet of rainfall, and shady forests that provide ample nutrients for the reclusive fungi. Several local outfitters offer guided hunts so visitors can find their own truffles.

Try a fully immersive guided truffle hunt that's led by an expert truffle hunter and their friendly, reliable truffle dog. Your day trip excursion with First Nature Tours features a dive-and-dig course focused on adventure and education, as well as a picnic featuring local wine pairings.

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Soon after the first truffles are dug up each fall and winter, they may start appearing on food menus, alongside wine flights, and even in beer. Availability may depend on what the forager found during their most recent hunt, costs, availability, and other factors—so we can’t guarantee truffles will always be featured on your next visit. But if you’re looking to experience the beloved truffle, here are a few places to start:

Just 20 minutes west of Salem, Left Coast Estate is a beloved winery that sits amid stands of old-growth oak trees. The winery's lineup of wood-fired pizzas includes an arugula and mushroom pie garnished with truffle salt. If you’re staying in the area, consider a getaway at The Grand Hotel in Salem (which sits in the heart of downtown) or The Independence Hotel (alongside the Willamette River—and just 20 minutes south of the winery).

Every spring, the Newberg-based Wolves & People Farmhouse Brewery releases La Truffe—a stout crafted with truffled hazelnuts. Keep an eye out in March and April for the limited release, and make plans to enjoy it on the brewery’s patio, which sits surrounded by a family farm. Pair your pour with an overnight stay at The Dundee Hotel to continue your exploration of Oregon Wine Country and its myriad craft beverages.

At the southern edge of the Willamette Valley in Eugene, the French-inspired Marché serves cuisine made from Pacific Northwest-grown ingredients; in winter, that typically means fresh, local truffles. If you’re making a night of it, Marché is next door to Inn at the 5th, a luxurious boutique hotel in downtown Eugene.

The upscale Joel Palmer House Restaurant, sitting in the heart of Oregon Wine Country, prides itself on crafting food menus that spotlight wild truffles and other fresh, seasonal ingredients; one such dish, for instance, is a dry-aged steak with a fresh herb truffle salsa. Nearby, The Vintages Trailer Resort offers a comfortable overnight stay in more than 30 restored Airstream trailers.

Housed in the Allison Inn & Spa in Newberg, JORY delivers a fine-dining experience that uses a variety of ingredients (such as truffles) that are grown and harvested in the Willamette Valley—and offers thoughtfully curated wine pairings. If you’d like to extend your stay, consider a night or two at the luxe Allison Inn & Spa—offering 77 deluxe rooms and suites, a full-service spa, and wide-open views of the surrounding hillsides.

You can also sign up for a guided truffle hunt with a local outfitter who can take you into the forest, teach you about truffles, and help you find your own.

Given the truffle’s popularity in the Willamette Valley, it’s no wonder several events pay tribute to the flavorful fungi. So if you want to learn more and indulge, here’s a round-up of popular truffle events around the Willamette Valley. For more, check out our story on Oregon truffle events.

The beloved Oregon Truffle Festival is among the Willamette Valley’s most popular culinary festivals each winter. All over the region, visitors enjoy North America’s only truffle dog competition, truffle-and-wine dinners, and other fun events.

Oregon Truffle Festival

Between January and March, Taste Newberg's Truffle Trail brings together truffle hunts, dinners crafted with (and inspired by) truffles, wine pairings, and other fun events that celebrate truffles around Newberg and Dundee in the heart of Oregon Wine Country.

Truffle Trail

Join the Oregon Truffle Festival and Willamette Valley Vineyards for a gala truffle dinner on Feb. 24, 2024, at the winery near Salem. It includes a multi-course menu that showcases the delicate flavors of the truffle—along with curated wines from Willamette Valley Vineyards.

Gala Truffle Dinner

Your adventure begins with the official Willamette Valley Travel Guide. Request your complimentary printed guide or download a digital guide today.

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