General Cigar Sorts Superior Connecticut Crop

General Cigar Co., maker of Macanudo, Partagas and various other premium cigars and a major grower of tobacco in the Connecticut River Valley, is sorting the 2010 crop of Connecticut shade tobacco in its cigar factory and tobacco processing facility located in Santiago, Dominican Republic. So far, the results are far better than average—so good that the company is certain to declare it a vintage year.

“Normal yield for grades one, two and three is 55 percent,” said Jhonys Diaz, vice president of operations of General Cigar Dominicana, during a private tour of the company’s operations in early February. “We are getting 82 percent. It will be a vintage.” General operates much like the makers of Port in that it only declares vintages in high-quality years. Its last vintage was in 2007.

The 2010 crop is a far cry from the miserable crop year General and other growers had in Connecticut in 2009, when it got only 19 percent yield of those tobacco grades from the crop—and felt lucky. “Most of the farmers plowed their crops under,” said General president Dan Carr.

The tobacco, although it looks good so far, still has a long, long way to go before it is ready to be rolled into cigars. There is the “winter sweat,” more fermentation and aging before General will roll it around Macanudos. “Three years from now—at the minimum,” said Diaz.