Few outsiders have been able to get up close and personal with Cuba’s – really the world’s – finest tobacco estates in Pinar del Rio province. But it’s starting to get easier. You can even spend a very rustic night or two on one of the top properties, smoking estate-rolled cigars, drinking rum with the grower, and enjoying hearty country food.
We were with Hector Luis Prieto at his Quemado de Rubi estate in San Juan y Martinez last month. He grows amazing tobacco. You feel like you’re in a time warp there. Ageless tobacco drying barns, dirt roads, men traveling around on horseback through spectacular green landscapes that look like they must have a century ago. He said his tobacco benefited from a relative drought in the last growing season – since they were able to carefully regulate water intake through irrigation.
It’s so special. He showed us a simple cottage in the middle of the estate he had just built for visitors. Traditional thatched roof, rough whitewashed planks, two twin beds, with another two in an open garret loft. Mercifully, with air conditioning too, “just in case anybody wants it,” Hector said with no irony as we sat on a shaded patio on a boiling day. “We’re building three more. I want people who love cigars to be able to come and stay in the middle of all this – to sit here and smoke some cigars with me, at breakfast if they want.” Tobacco paradise.
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