La Aurora Field Trip Day 1

After a delay in arriving last night due to a mechanical issue that had me arrive in the Dominican Republic 4 hours late, the trip continued as expected. At 8am I was met at Camp David, a hotel on a mountain in Santiago with breath taking views by a driver who would bring me to the factory. Once there, I would catch up with people who have become more then friends over the years. My itinerary was hand selected by Guillermo Leon, Gustavo Velayos and Manual Inoa with input from my boss, Jason Wood who has become family to me.

Guillermo Leon asked what I had hoped to accomplish this trip and the answer was simple. As much as I am proud of being a former blogger (and one can argue I still am with this entry), I wanted to shed the label some have attached to me. I want to be recognized as a tobacco man and part of the cigar manufacturing family. What I learned today was a step in that direction.

My guide for the day would be Leonicio Cruz whose knowledge would guide me along the way, We also met up with Angel from Hatuey who would help with the language barrier, but when it comes to tobacco I think I have most of the lingo down. Small world we live in as it turns out I knew Angel from Mamaroneck, NY.

This time of year, the fields are a sight to see, as there are lush leaves of green as far as the eye can see. The variety we inspected today included HVA which is used on the Guillermo Leon, and Criollo ’98 which is used as binder and.or filler in many of the La Aurora portfolio. Each variety of tobacco has a different shape to it, and I think I shocked my teacher when I pointed out that a field we were entering in was Criollo ’98.

Each leaf was inspected, and the Seco, Viso, and Ligero were broken down by their priming’s. I learned about the content of the soil, how it was measured, and how various chemical components of the soil effect the leaf from maturation, to fermentation and the overall taste of the finished product. Prior to today my knowledge has come from being inside the factory, but what I learned today has once again changed the way I view an industry I care so much about to a level that has gone above and beyond how I looked at it before.

Here are some pictures that I have taken so far…

My flight out of Miami was delayed when we needed to change planes due to a mechanical issue.

When tobacco is cured before it turns brown it becomes yellow.

This is HVA tobacco which is used in the Guillermo Leon Signature

My guide Leonicio Cruz (right) collects some seeds from the Criollo ’98

Once the curing is complete the tobacco has a gorgeous shade of brown!

The 3rd farm was growing Dominican Olar

I smoked some straight ligero at various stages of fermentation to understand the process.

Some Cameroon wrapper that will be used on a future Preferidos.

After a day at the fields I had to catch up on some work, and write this entry. This was my view. I could get use to working from here. I think every office needs a terrace with a view!

See you all tomorrow!


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