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Heading to the Dominican Republic

This is the time of year my cigar travels get into full swing. Winter in New York means tobacco season in the Caribbean and Central America, and a week from today I’ll be stomping my boots in Santiago, Dominican Republic, looking at tobacco in the fields and watching cigars being rolled in the city’s myriad cigar factories.

The Dominican Republic is the world’s leading producer of premium cigars. More cigars are rolled by hand in the Dominican Republic than in any other country. Honduras, Nicaragua and even Cuba pale in comparison. It’s an amazing statistic, especially when you consider that as recently as 1980 few cigars were rolled there.

I’ll spend the week in the Dominican, meeting up with cigarmakers, filling my notebooks and shooting videos for this web site. I’m going to be joined by Michael Moretti, who manages, who will be getting his feet wet on his first trip into the cigar factories. You’ll be able to follow our travels as I file daily blogs.

Before I headed out, I wanted to give you a chance to have some input on the trip. Do you have a question about Dominican cigars, either for me or for one of your favorite cigarmakers? Ask it here.
Edward Kobesky January 7, 2008 1:22pm ET
I'd be interested to see some videos of what life is like outside of the resorts in the DR -- how the people who manage and work in these factories live, what their daily lives are like, what conditions are like inside the factories and so on.

I'd also be interested in what it's like to be a "cigar tourist." What's travel like in terms of getting to the fields? What are the hotels like? And heck, where -- and what -- is safe to eat?

That's the stuff that you don't hear much about.

Can't wait to see your coverage, David, especially the videos. Safe trip.
Joe Laker Indiana January 7, 2008 2:14pm ET
What are some of the cigar makers favorite vitolas? Are their tastes moving with the masses towards shorter, larger ring gauges? I could definitley see where their tastes would lie in the smaller ring sizes since most of them have been in the business for such a long time where there were not as many vitolas available. Thank You.
Kevin Zaborniak January 8, 2008 12:13am ET
What does Hendrik Kelner, Lito Gomez, and the Fuentes have plan for 2008.A real hard analysis on what the storms did to the fields this year and how it will affect the amount of cigars rolled in the up coming years.
Wes Carter Wilmington, NC January 8, 2008 1:03pm ET
I spend about half my time in the DR for my line of work, and love to have an Opus X at the Arturo Fuente Cigar Club on 27th Ave in Santo Domingo. It is a beautiful place to relax, and worth a look if you have never been!
Mark A Galbreath Annapolis, MD January 11, 2008 11:03am ET
Since when did quantity overrule quality? The DR may be the world's top producers, but from where does the tobacco come? Nicaraguan tobacco is by far superior to any other save Cuban.
Sheldon Weiner Calabasas, Ca January 11, 2008 5:15pm ET
David,I was vacationing the Dominican Republic last year and was fortunate to stay at Casa de Campo, and had a wonderful time. It's a great resort with every available amenity you could want. Polo, tennis, great golf, snorkeling, kayaking and biking. There are also some wonderful restaurants.Best of all, it's only a golf cart ride away to the Altadis factory. There are tours there almost daily. What I don't understand, is why the cigars cost more money in their country than they do in the United States. There are some duty free zones, but the cigars there that are for export only and cannot be enjoyed while you are there.
jim mayer January 13, 2008 10:45am ET
I wrote before that I live in canada and very expensive to smoke cigars. Well I just found the perfect place for me to have a good priced cigar. I live 5 min from the border and purchased a CAO B razilla for $5.50 tax free. Only one catch I have to smoke it in the U.S.A. so I pulled out my lawn chair and lite up. Excellant cigar. Was as good as the Cohiba sublime 2007 LTD I had in Cancun. Good thing I go across the border and buy gas aswell and save $20 on a tank of gas. That is my reward for my effort.
Mark A Galbreath Annapolis, MD January 14, 2008 12:34am ET
Hey Jim, perhaps we can work out a "gas for meds" exchange? :-)
DAVE Savona January 15, 2008 6:15pm ET
Ed, hopefully the footage going up answers some of your questions.
DAVE Savona January 15, 2008 6:16pm ET
Joe, great question. The blog going up in the morning has those answers.
DAVE Savona January 15, 2008 6:17pm ET
Kevin, the rains did serious damage. I touch on that (and show you video of an affected field) in tomorrow's blog. For an in-depth story on the DR outlook, see Tuesday's Cigar Insider.
DAVE Savona January 15, 2008 6:18pm ET
Sheldon, sadly no Caso de Campo for me on this trip. Just work. The reason cigars are so expensive here is that most (not all, but most) are made in free-trade zones, so they must be shipped out of the country. In order for many of these brands to be sold here, they must be re-imported from the United States, which is expensive and adds considerably to the cost of the cigar. There are also many, many fakes here. This is a great country in which to make cigars, but not a great country in which to buy them.

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