When winemakers from northern California first set their sights on Oregon and tried to grow wine grapes here in the 1960s, many people thought they were crazy.

The same could be said of the latest crop of Oregon agricultural dreamers, including Simon and Linnet Cartwright of Cottage Grove.

For the past five years, the Cartwrights have spent more than $40,000 and countless hours on the four acres behind their house growing trees inoculated with European varieties of truffles — the aromatic and flavorful fungi prized by chefs around the world.

The Cartwrights are trying to grow truffles — a line of work successful in Europe and Australia, but still unproven in North America.

Truffle specialist Charles Lefevre, founder of New World Truffieres, the Eugene company that supplied the Cartwrights’ trees, believes the Oregon truffle industry will be a similar success. “It’s the people who get in now who will be the big stars 30 years from now," he said.

For more, see: Truffle pioneers hope fungi business can rival wine