I just landed in Santiago, Dominican Republic, where more premium cigars are made than any other place on earth. I’m here for the annual ProCigar Festival, a gathering of some of the country’s biggest names in cigars, for a week of immersion in cigar country.
What a difference from New York. I left the icy cold and was greeted by tropical warmth. This is the heart of tobacco-growing season, and it’s warm and perfect for growing fine tobacco.
The festival actually started yesterday, Valentine’s Day (not quite sure who planned that—bad enough I'm working on President's Day!) and it began in La Romana, out to the east and south of Santiago. I’m skipping the tour out there, as well as the golf tournament—as much as I’d like to have fun I’m here to work, and Santiago is full of cigar companies I need to see.
My first meeting is in two hours, with Ernesto Perez-Carrillo and his son, Ernie III. You know Ernesto—he used to make La Gloria Cubanas in Miami, and then here in the Dominican Republic. Now he’s doing a new thing, working with his son and daughter, making a cigar bearing his own name. Later today I’ll see his factory for the first time.
I have a lot of cigars in my immediate future, and plenty of meetings. I’ll keep you all informed with these blogs. Follow along, and smoke a Dominican cigar as you read.