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An Interview with Carlos Fuente Sr.

A discussion with the head of Arturo Fuente Inc., one of the world's largest producers of premium hand-rolled cigars.
Marvin R. Shanken
From the Print Edition:
Jack Nicholson, Summer 95

(continued from page 1)

Fuente: This year it's over 65 acres.

C.A.: What does that acreage represent in terms of potential production? When the crop is harvested, what will that represent in terms of potential cigars?

Fuente: This year we are growing about 30 acres shade for wrappers and the other 35 acres sun-grown to get binders and things like that. Of the 30 acres of shade-grown, after sorting out the top grades, you can probably get, roughly speaking, about 1,000 pounds to an acre, and half of that, 40 to 50 percent, would be wrappers. That's depending on the crop and things like that. It's hard to figure the exact amount, but we've been seeing about 40 to 50 percent of good wrappers [per acre] from that farm.

C.A.: At one time, your competitors thought the wrapper venture was just folly, but it is now drawing serious attention. Do you have plans to sell this wrapper ultimately to other cigar manufacturers in the Dominican Republic, or is it primarily for the Fuente family?

Fuente: It's for the Fuentes.

C.A.: Has there been talk of the other manufacturers getting into wrapper farming because of your new success?

Fuente: I'm sure that they will. Once we come out in the market--and it is going to be successful--there will be no doubt about other operations starting up. I'm sure if they are not already experimenting by now, they will be. Of course, when we first started, we used to have a lot of friends come and tell us we were crazy, that it couldn't be done. A lot of people tried to discourage us. But when we set our minds to do something, we put all of our effort into it.

C.A.: In the area where you're growing this wrapper, I assume that there are other properties that could be developed. Is land availability an issue here?

Fuente: No, definitely not.

C.A.: It's really a question of whether or not others are willing to make the investment and take the time to be competitive. What is there about this wrapper that makes it special? You've been buying Cameroon wrappers for many, many years and you buy Connecticut wrappers. But you are clearly going to be shifting a certain amount of your production over to this wrapper. What is there about the taste?

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