Spotlight: How Tobacco Is Grown In Cuba
As specialists in Cuban Cigars, EGM Cigars thought it was only right that we write a blog post about how tobacco is grown in Cuba and how the country cultivates their fantastic tobacco and taste.
In modern day Cuba, the way tobacco is now grown varies greatly from the way in which it was grown in the early stages, but many of the traditions have stayed the same. Due to innovation, research and development, the tobacco has grown from strength to strength (and we are not just talking about nicotine levels). This exciting blog post will be talking about the magnificent journey of tobacco and the specific regions in Cuba which has provided the back drop for such an interesting story.
Back in the early 1600s, tobacco was grown in smaller numbers and was not yet the billionaire business it has now become. Therefore, the tobacco plants were grown in smaller fields, owned by individual farm owners and in factories which are certainly not what they are today. In fact, cigars were not the flawless stogies you see or smoke today. Back then, Cubans would smoke tobacco leaves that had not undergone the sublime ageing process present in most classic Cuban Cigars now, nor had they been expertly hand-rolled into seamless cigars, seen in the likes of Cohiba Cuban Cigars and the Romeo y Julieta Cigars. They were simply bunched together and smoked without a second thought.
Nevertheless, despite their preliminary stages, the Cuban Cigar was still one of Cuba’s most prestigious exports and one that made it very famous, back then and today. Its enormous popularity is due to the tobacco growing regions in Cuba, which are like no other. As with any successful brand, there will always be copies and imitations and that is no exception for Cuban Cigars, but nothing can truly replicate the centuries old culture and knowledge of growing and rolling tobacco. The fake will always be found out as a fraud in comparison to the benchmark excellence of Cuban Cigars.
Many of its virtues are due to where the tobacco is grown in Cuba, with many aficionados being able to name each region like the names of their own children.
Vuelta Abajo Region
Located in the far west of Cuba is the Pinar del Río province, where the Vuelta Abajo Region can be found. Recognised by most as the region in which the finest tobaccos are grown, this fertile land provides most of the tobacco used in Habanos Cigars. The likes of Zino Davidoff, expert cigar connoisseur, declaring it ‘royal terrain’, the climate and soil conditions in this area makes it the ideal spot for cultivating the tobacco plant. It produces not only fantastic quality tobacco, but produces all of the different types too.
Semi Vuelta Region
The Semi Vuelta Region is the second tobacco region in Pinar del Rio, where only one percent of the tobacco growing land is used for producing Habanos fillers and binder leaves. Most of its tobacco leaves are used in the national production of cigarettes. Nevertheless, this region is an excellent provider of tobacco seed, which are then planted in the more inhabitable Vuelta Abajo Region.
The Partido Region’s plantations have been growing tobacco since the early 1700s and produce the divine wrappers seen on our Cuban Cigars, such as the dark oily wrapper of a Cohiba Behike, or the lighter wrappers seen on the Bolivar Cigars. The plantations here are covered with cloth to ensure that the tobacco plants are shaded from the sun, so as to cultivate lighter leaves for the wrappers.
Vuelta Arribo Region
This is the region where the legendary story of Christopher Columbus landed in Cuba and discovered the natives smoking tobacco. This is the biggest and oldest tobacco manufacturing zone of Cuba, which in fact no longer grows tobacco for Habanos. Nevertheless, tobacco is still grown here for the likes of Jose L Piedra and Guantanamera Cigars.
So there you have it, various factors go into making Cuban Cigars, both in the cultivation of the tobaccos and in the manufacturing process. Fidel Castro in an interview with Marvin Shanken, believes that ‘the cultivation and choosing the right leaves for the cigars are really an art’ and that that process is ‘really beautiful’ and we are not going to argue. Who can disagree when you look at Cuba’s luscious green plantations and the Cuban Cigar in your hand. What a journey, what a process!
We will be elaborating on the tobacco leaves found in these regions and the processes they undergo in ageing processes in a later blog post, so keep checking back here for more posts like this!