People from more than 60 countries are in Cuba for this Festival. Besides tasting the latest and greatest cigars, they’re also getting the chance to visit some of the farms where the famed tobacco is grown.
CCTV America’s Michelle Begue filed this report from the Vuelta Abajo region of Cuba.
Annual Habano Cigar Festival underway in CubaPeople from more than 60 countries are in Cuba for this Festival. Besides tasting the latest and greatest cigars, they're also getting the chance to visit some of the farms where the famed tobacco is grown. CCTV America's Michelle Begue filed this report from the Vuelta Abajo region of Cuba.
Some of the finest and most recognized tobacco in the world is grown in Cuba’s Vuelta Abajo region, just 150 kilometers (93.2 mile) away from Havana. The unique combination of temperature, soil and humidity there helps create some of the best handmade, premium cigars on the planet.
“The secret in picking the best Tobacco is first the fertilizer, second the herbicides that you use on the plant, and picking it at exactly the right time,” another farmer Eriberto said.
Cuban farmers work 8-hour days, sometimes seven days a week to bring the best quality cigars to aficionados around the world. Women work preparing the leaves that are selected for air-curing. Workers need to watch for temperature, humidity and rain during the drying of the leaves. Most of the men and women we meet have been working these fields since childhood.
There is a great sense of pride not only in the job they have done over the years, but the end product. The cigars that come from this Finca Rosario farm were nominated for one of Cuba’s highest cigar honors in 2012, the Hombre Habano Award for best production.
Those unique characteristics are what bring experts back year after year to the Cuban Cigar Festival held in Havana. As the 17th Edition of this annual festival kicks off, news of improved relations between the United States and Cuba is on the minds of many. A lucrative market could open, just 175 kilometers (108.7 miles) from the island.
“Tomorrow if the embargo or the blockade as we call it, is lifted, it will be really important for Habanos, because the US market represents roughly 60 percent of the total market. We would have the opportunity to be in the most important market of cigars.” Jorge Luis Fernandez Maque, vice president of marketing of Habanos S.A. said.
US cigar shop showcases alternatives to Cuban cigarsCCTV America visited a Washington, D.C. cigar shop, JR Cigar, and talked to manager John Sullivan about the best cigars in the world.
The Cuban cigar maker Habanos S.A. said it could gain 25-30 percent of the U.S. market if the United States lifts its 53 year-old embargo on Cuba. The company, jointly owned by the Cuban government and British multinational Imperial Tobacco, generated sales of $439 million last year, even without access to the U.S. More buyers would mean more work for tobacco farmers, and Cuba’s producers say they’d welcome the challenge.
While cigar lovers may be savoring the idea of buying Cuban cigars as trade and travel restrictions ease in the future, they can get a small taste now. New regulations allow American travelers to Cuba to bring back up to $100-worth of tobacco, which maybe enough to win over their palates.
History of Cigar explained
Cigars have a rich history not just in Cuban culture, but in the world’s. Here is a quick video to short the interesting history of cigars.
History of Cigar explainedCigars have a rich history not just in Cuban culture, but in the world's. Here is a quick video to short the interesting history of cigars.
Dave Savona-Editor, Cigar Aficionado on future of Cuban cigars
Far fewer people in countries like China smoke cigars than the more traditional cigarettes, but the popularity is slowly growing there. Still, it’s not nearly as popular as it is in places like the United States. There’s even a publication called Cigar Aficionado, that’s dedicated to writing about the best the industry has to offer.
For more on this, CCTV America interviewed David Savona, executive editor of Cigar Aficionado.