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Day 8: Barns of Dreams

Just to give you an idea of what the tobacco looks like going in the barns, check out this latest video. It’s awesome. Hiroshi Robaina, the grandson of tobacco guru Alejandro Robaina, took me for a walk through their three tobacco curing barns and I was speechless. Unbelievable quality.

Hiroshi said that this year they weren’t using any artificial curing barns because the weather was so perfect for naturally drying the leaves. Last year, they had to use almost all artificial curing because it was too hot and too dry. I am not a great fan of artificially cured tobacco. I think it cooks some of the quality out of the leaf.

But last week there was perfect warmth and the humidity was just right to cure the tobacco naturally. The only adjustments made in the barns were a little bit of chopped up moist tobacco on the floor of the barns to assure good humidity and opening and closing the barn windows and doors to regulate the temperature and freshness in the building.

The 32-year-old Hiroshi said that it takes about 10 days to have the leaves turn from green to yellow brown. Then it takes another 50 to 60 days for the tobacco to completely dry. They do a short fermentation in their barns afterwards before shipping the tobacco to close-by warehouses in San Luis, where the tobacco is sorted according to texture, size and strength and fermented another time.

Fingers crossed. Can’t wait to see the end results later this year! I still remember lots of optimistic harvests that ended with the tobacco being improperly processed. Hope it doesn’t happen this year! We need some fabulous wrappers on Cuban cigars!!
martin wysocki Houston, Texas February 13, 2008 4:14pm ET
James, this series as been excellent. Thanks for the videos too! How do the Cuban cigar workers and factory owners feel about the possibility of political changes anytime soon? Also, why did the Cubans get away from box pressing cigars like Padron as mentioned in yesterday's video and report?
Christian Aliperti February 13, 2008 6:43pm ET
Good questions martin, I hope you get an answer as I would like to know as well.
James Suckling February 14, 2008 12:29pm ET
I think just about everyone is looking forward to gradual political and economic change, which is happening even though the US press is not reporting much. As for the box pressed cigars, it just became less popular and more people started smoking bundles and cigars in cedar cabinets. I miss them.

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