Not content to produce some of the best and sought after grapes in the world, a handful of Sonoma and Napa county vintners are replanting grape vines with oak and filbert trees, hoping to grow the most expensive, exotic tuber in the world—the black Perigord truffle.

Truffles, whose heady, elusive aroma and flavor are prized by upscale restaurants and can fetch up to $1,200 a pound, grow naturally on the roots of a half-dozen or so species of trees, though attempts to grow them commercially have met with limited success.

In Sonoma, Robert Sinskey of Robert Sinskey Vineyards has turned over 1½ acres of vineyard land in the Carneros region to trees whose roots have been inoculated with the truffle fungus. Harvest, if there is anything to harvest, may begin as soon as winter of next year.

In Napa, vintner Larry Turley has planted more than 2,000 truffle-inoculated hazelnut trees on his vineyard land; after seven years they have yet to yield an actual truffle, though it can take up to 10 years for trees to produce. In the Napa Valley’s Stag’s Leap District, Todd and Trevor Traina of Hermosa Vineyards have replaced two-plus acres of Cabernet Sauvignon vines with truffle trees.

Why would successful vintners in some of the world’s premier wine-producing regions try their hand at the iffy business of growing truffles? Well, there is the challenge. Also the potential reward. Truffles are the world’s priciest legal crop and can be five or more times more profitable than the same acre of grapes. Think about that next time you pour a glass of Napa Valley Cabernet.