Susan Alexander is the President and CEO of Black Diamond French Truffles, Inc. She has transformed 200 acres of tobacco farmland – in Vass, North Carolina (50 miles southwest of Raleigh) – into the United States’ largest truffle farm.
When Susan bought the farmland from an old woman, the lady prophetically whispered to her, “There’s diamonds in these fields. I know you’ll find them.” Susan says this was her inspiration for naming her orchard Black Diamond French Truffles, Inc.
Truffles are commonly considered solely a European delicacy, probably because they have been consumed there since the 20th century BCE. But Europe better watch out, because North Carolina has high hopes of rivaling its truffle production.
North Carolina, along with other Mid-Atlantic states, has ideal conditions for growing truffles. In fact, North Carolina resembles areas in Europe that produce the finest truffles. North Carolina has soil structure, annual temperatures and rainfall amounts similar to these places. North Carolina also has four well-established seasons, which is very important to truffle cultivation. Truffles thrive in areas where the temperature dips below freezing, but the ground doesn’t freeze solid.
In North Carolina, you will find truffles cultivated on orchards, rather than harvested from the wild. Because truffles need soil with a pH between 7.9 and 8.1, North Carolina soils sometimes have to be limed to reduce their acidity. A truffle orchard should be on a plot of land that is well-drained and irrigated.
Starting a truffle orchard is a huge commitment. Once the trees that the truffles rely on are planted, it will still be four to six years before the first truffles can be harvested.
While truffle cultivating is still relatively new to North Carolina, the industry has done well and is growing. In addition to having the largest truffle orchard in the United States, North Carolina is home to dozens more truffle orchards that are also succeeding.
Want to see a truffle orchard for yourself? Black Diamond French Truffles, Inc. offers tours and tastings at its beautiful orchard.
Susan is on a crusade to change global gourmet with her American truffle. She is the first to mix real Black Perigord truffles with popcorn so Americans could taste the high priced delicacy as an affordable food they love. Besides the popcorn, Alexander has also created a line of truffle products including truffle oil, salt, and many others in the works.
With the farm, Susan Rice Alexander is creating the next “Napa Valley” of truffles and she hopes her truffle movement will catch on like the American wine craze. She sees herself as the Robert Mondavi of truffles.