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A Leaf of Their Own

Dominican Republic cigarmakers are following the example of Fuente Fuente OpusX and growing their own wrapper tobacco
David Savona
From the Print Edition:
Cuban Spy Scandal, May/Jun 02

(continued from page 3)

Exasperated, Gomez called a meeting in his fields. He brought tobacco from his factory: the rough, broken and grizzled filler leaves, rough and veiny binders, and perfect, supple and elegant wrappers. Seeing the difference in the end product got the message through.

Gomez is building better tobacco barns, teaching workers how to hang wrapper leaves on cujes, long poles that help leaves cure more evenly. Just like Fuente.

Fuente says he appreciates the imitation. "I'm very proud that they follow me," he says. "This country has to produce all the elements of a cigar. I think it's something that's absolutely necessary for the survival of the Dominican cigar industry. It is my ultimate dream for this country to stand on its own." Chateau de la Fuente, he says, "doesn't belong to the Fuentes. I can't take it home in a suitcase. The day I pass on, I want to know that it's going to pass on to other generations. It's the dream."

In La Canella, Gomez keeps working at his crop, and he already has plans to double his plantings to 30 acres in the fall. He recently purchased software to record temperature, rainfall, humidity and sunlight, and he's learning as he goes. Now, he has to wait.

"The curiosity is killing me," he says. "You gotta wait to see it and you gotta wait to smoke it. You've got to wait."

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