Far to the west on the island of Cuba lies the province of Pinar del Río, and within that area is a special spot known as the Vuelta Abajo. There, where the soil is reddish-brown and the air is clean, life seems to slow down. Days are defined by work, and on the small farms that dot the region, more often than not that work is tending to tobacco. For this is where Cuba's finest cigar tobacco is grown, leaves that go on such treasured cigars as Cohibas, Montecristos and Romeo y Julietas.
In December, Cigar Aficionado's Gordon Mott and David Savona visited a very special farm in the region, one that had never been written about in Cigar Aficionado, a place where few visitors have been. It was the plantation of Hector Luis Prieto. On the very day when Prieto's small cadre of workers was putting up the thin shade over his tobacco field, Cigar Aficionado met with the man and shot video of his tobacco fields to bring you a first-hand account of how tobacco is grown on a very small—but most efficient—farm. For while Prieto won't turn 40 until August, he has won the prestigious Habanos Man of the Year Award for his remarkable achievements in the field, producing a higher yield of fine wrapper tobacco than any of his neighbors. He is the youngest man ever to win the award.
For the full story on Hector Luis Prieto and how he grows shade tobacco leaf, see the February issue of Cigar Aficionado magazine, on sale now.