Cigar Aficionado

Cuba’s Most Revered Tobacco Farm

Visiting Havana is an amazing experience for a cigar smoker, but making the trek out to Pinar del Río to see Cuba’s prime tobacco growing region makes that experience all the more complete. I make my way out there roughly half the times I visit the island.

I traveled to Cuba four times in the past 14 months with Gordon Mott. You can read the fruits of our research in our Havana cover story, which is going up on our website all week at

Gordon’s fine pieces on the many hotels and restaurants in Cuba went up yesterday; my stories about Havana’s cigar shops and factories went up today, along with a story about Pinar del Río; and tomorrow we’re launching Gordon’s report on Cuba’s music scene and how to tour Old Havana. Gordon and I head back to Cuba next week for the Habanos Festival—if you’re one of the hundreds going, these stories can help you get the most out of Cuba.

Another story went up today: my Cuba Report from the same issue, and that’s the reason for this blog. The article came from one of those visits to Pinar del Río, specifically San Luis, and the best-known tobacco farm in Cuba, Cuchillas de Barbacoa.

I met with Hirochi Robaina, who is a well-known figure in the world of Cuban tobacco, and spent most of the day with him to learn more about him for the story. It was an important time for Hirochi: when we spoke, he had recently finished harvesting his first tobacco crop grown without the aid of his grandfather, the revered Alejandro Robaina. Hirochi had to face trouble in the fields. He planted very early, using a trick his grandfather taught him. He faced poor weather and then was challenged by the growers working on the farm, who wanted to replant. And he used a new organic fertilizer that hadn’t been employed in decades.

We shot some video while spending time with Hirochi. Take a look.

I learned quite a few things about Hirochi that I didn’t know before, including the fact that he speaks very good English (it’s far superior to my Spanish), that he can roll cigars with ease, and that he was once quite skilled at judo. Take a look at the story to read more about this very interesting tobacco farmer, and what it takes to walk in the footsteps of a legend.

"That is quite an art. It certainly takes time to roll a cigar. The results were excellent, it looked beautiful!" —March 4, 2012 00:24 AM
"great video,thank you for sharing." —February 29, 2012 21:18 PM
"Outstanding video, thanks for sharing it David. I especially liked the final touches on the capping of the cigar. Oh my goodness, "Pinar del Río, specifically San Luis, and the best-known tobacco farm in Cuba, Cuchillas de Barbacoa" ... now there's my dream vacation." —February 23, 2012 11:06 AM
"I hope my question is not way out in left field but I'm curious to know what you think about the Graycliff line of cigars. Their prices do not seem to correspond to the CA ratings especially since the y are not Cuban cigars. What am I missing should I be buying them or what would be a better alternative cigar. I enjoy your comments" —February 23, 2012 10:08 AM
"Cool rolling video. Impressive guy, wish him the best at the festival, and good luck following his grandfather in an amazing art." —February 23, 2012 01:28 AM
"Cool rolling video. Impressive guy, wish him the best following his grandpa." —February 23, 2012 01:19 AM