Tobacco is native to Cuba, and grown and picked in several regions of the Island, but mostly
The Animal Traction: Animal traction is still carefully used for field ploughing so as to properly loosen and aerate the soil.
The Shade Grown: Shade grown, or wrapper leaf plants, demand extra- ordinary labor as these are entirely covered by muslin cloth canopies and individually strung to the frame.
The Harvesting: The plants are ready for harvesting 40 days into the process and one plant can take up to 30 days to harvest, as only 2 to 3 leaves can be picked at one time.
Three days after the ceremony where the New World welcomed his Discover, the Admiral recognized among the belongings that an Indian transported in his canoe the same dried tobacco leaves he saw while he was sailing among the Santa Maria de la Concepción and Fernandina islands in Bahamas, according to the name he gave them. However, not until November of that same year Spaniards noticed the importance and the value that those "dried leavesâ€ had for the "new inhabitantsâ€.
Soon after the Bariay landing in the northeast littoral region of Cuba, 30 km to the southwest of Gibara in the today's Holguin city, the Spaniards Rodrigo de Xerez and Luis de Torres sent together with two natives to explore the newly discovered lands, were the first Europeans who found tobacco and the its use by Taino natives.
Regarding this, in the Christopher Columbus' diary there are some notes of Brother Bartolome de las Casas where he described how women and men crossed the towns with grasses in their hands to take aromatic smoke. Those grasses were inside another dried leaf by way of a musket which was light for one of its sides and for the other one was puffed on, absorbing the smoke that numbed the flesh and made people to get drunk. Bartolomé also pointed out that "those musketsâ€ or whatever we call them, were named "tobaccoâ€.
This way, it has been established that tobacco originally comes from America and its first use was known in Cuba. Archaeological findings made in Holguin city support some of the writings that the Admiral made about this ritual of the Cuban natives. There were found wooden carving pieces known as the idols of tobacco, as well as, tools in a Y shape that helped to inhale powder of the other side.
Those pieces belonged to the cohoba rite described by Columbus in his notes. Due to the lack of security in the use of this term there is confusion among the words cohoba, cohiba or cojiba, because in the writings of that period of time those words are indistinctly referred to the plant or to the ritual. Tobacco was known in different West Indian islands at the time of discovering.
The plant was distributed throughout American continent: Brazil, Florida, Mexico, New Granada, Venezuela, Peru, etc. The natives used it in the liturgy and in the pharmacopoeia. In the nuptial rites they perfumed the bride and impregnate sick people and children with the smoke.
In relation to the finding of tobacco in Cuba, some historians comment that Columbus was totally indifferent regarding the discovery of tobacco by his envoys. Expecting to find the majestic oriental lands of Gran Kan, the Admiral did not notice the new treasure that nature put before his eyes.
On the other hand, the 16ht Century in Europe was strongly marked, as it is mentioned before, by the ban of consumption, sale or growing tobacco. At the beginning of the 17th Century, Spaniards, pressured by the European demand started its growing in Cuba, taught by Cuban natives probably.
The first tobacco plantations were established on the banks of Almendares River, around the year 1610 and of the Arimao, in the central region of the island. At that time tobacco smugglers brought tobacco to the foreign markets. Tobacco production and market increased over the sugar production due to is low cost.
To promote this profitable market, Spaniards began to foster white people emigration from Canaries Islands. Then, Cuba was almost a dessert island, and for an insignificant annual rent they were granted plantations to those Canaries people who request them. Thus, besides developing those plantations, the island was populated fostering white population.
In 1659, in reply to the request of the Trinidad city council, and by order of the governor of Havana at that time, the tobacco growing was spread to other important areas. Aiming at trading directly with the fleets that usually arrive to Havana, plantations were spread to the west, giving place to the different farmhouses that later became the towns of Pinar del Rio where the best tobacco grow.
CUBAN CIGAR BRANDS
Bolivar Cigars In 1927, the Spanish industrialist Jose F. Rocha registered a cigar trademark with the name of the liberator Simón Bolivar.
Cohiba cigars The first Cohiba cigars were manufactured under Ernesto Che Guevara's distinction, in the 60's, when he had the position of Minister of Industries, in the newly born revolutionary Cuban government. Che selected the most outstanding specialists in terms of habanos, as Avelino Lara and Eduardo Rivero, from Larrañaga.
El Rey del Mundo Cigars (The King of the World) In 1848, the Spaniard Antonio Allones settled in Havana, into the tobacco business. Four decades later, in 1882, being already an important tobacconist, he introduced a very special cigar, elaborated with leaves from Vuelta Abajo, Pinar del Río, to which he distinguished with the name of El Rey del Mundo (The King of the World).
Flor de Cano Cigars This brand was created in 1884 by the brothers, Tomás and José Cano Saínz, and it has kept its undeniable quality, which makes it one of the favourite ones and most well known by the expert smokers worldwide.
Flor de Rafael González Márquez In 2006, Flor de Rafael González Márquez celebrates its 70th anniversary. Two stories are known about the origin of these cigars. The first one is related to the presence of the Marquis Rafael González in Cuba, who spent his time on tobacco businesses.
Fonseca Cigars The brand Fonseca was registered in Havana in 1907, by the Spanish Francisco Fonseca, whose picture is still reproduced in the boxes' top of these cigars.
H. Upmann Cigars It is one of the most prestigious cigar's brands of all times. Its fame surpassed the expectations and dreams of its creators, the German brothers Hermann and August Hupmann, who established in Havana in 1843.
Hoyo de Monterrey Cigars The trademark Hoyo de Monterrey (Hole of Monterrey) was registered in Cuba in 1867 by the Spaniard Jose Gener, one of the most important barons of the tobacco industry, who acquired his fortune by cigars and sugar cane.
MonteCristo Cigars lmost a century after the publication of the novel The Count of MonteCristo , Alonso Menéndez from Asturias, who already had a cigar business in Cuba, created and registered a trade mark of cigars after the name of the main character of that novel.
Partagás Cigars In 1845, Don Jaime Partagás gave his name to a new cigar brand, the one that achieved celebrity very soon. In that way was opened the Royal Factory of Cigars Partagás.
Por Larrañaga Cigars Por Larrañaga cigars use tobacco leaves coming from Vuelta Abajo (Pinar del Río). Enveloped in a fine cedar lea; they are a true work of art because of their exquisite display.
Punch Cigars Punch is the third oldest trademark in Havana; the other two created previously are Por Larrañaga, founded on 1834, and Ramon Allones, founded on 1837.