After a long absence from the U.S. market and a lengthy trademark lawsuit, Dona Flor cigars are ready to come back to retail thanks to new distributor Dona Flor USA.
The Dona Flor brand, which is made by Brazil’s Menendez Amerino y Cia., first hit U.S. tobacconists in 2005 via American distributor Brazil Cigars & Tobacco LLC. But a trademark dispute between the manufacturer and the Florida-based distributor has kept the brand in turmoil since 2007. For a brief period, there were even two versions of the brand on the market, one distributed by Brazil Cigars & Tobacco and one by Brazilian cigarette company Mitka—the large tobacco corporation that acquired Menendez Amerino in 2007.
A lawsuit was filed by Menendez Amerino in May 2009 over its U.S. distribution rights, and although Dona Flor was still sold throughout the world and Brazil, the brand temporarily disappeared into obscurity here in the U.S.
Now that the lawsuit has been settled out of court, U.S. distribution is handled by Colorado company Dona Flor USA, a division of International Cigar Group owned by Chris Edge.
"We have a lot of work to do to re-establish a trust level with the market,” said Edge. “Everyone remembered the quality of the cigar but also remembered the problems and really did not want anything to do with it until that mess was really resolved.”
Dona Flor cigars consist primarily of Brazilian tobacco and are manufactured at the Menendez Amerino factory, a 35-year-old operation located in São Gonçalo dos Campos, in Bahia, Brazil. The company, which is owned by Mitka, is run by Cuban cigarmaker Felix Menendez and tobacco grower Mario Amerino.
Four Dona Flor lines are now available: Dona Flor, Dona Flor Seleçao, Dona Flor Reserva Especial and Dona Flor Puro. The cigar blends use a combination of different Brazilian tobacco, including sun-grown Mata Fina, Mata Norte and a Habano-seed varietal grown in Brazil’s Reconcavo basin. A Connecticut line with wrapper leaf imported from the Connecticut River Valley is also available. Dona Flors retail in the $8 to $12 range.
“We are preparing to relaunch the Dona Flor line in full force this summer,” said Edge who added that a 35th anniversary cigar is scheduled for release later this year.