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ANCESTRAL (PRE-CASTRO) CUBAN SEEDS

 
     
  A HERITAGE LOST
Premium cigar lovers know Fidel Castro seized all Cuban tobacco farms and cigar factories in the early 1960s, and drove the renowned Cuban cigar families to refuge in other countries. What is little known, however, is how he brought the island's Golden Age of Cigars to an end.
 
     
  Cuba looked to Russia to save the island's economy by importing Cuba's agricultural products. But, Russia wanted sugar, not cigars. Castro disbanded Cuban Land, the island's leading tobacco research institute and others, and diverted tobacco farmers and agronomists into sugar production. The no-longer-needed seed banks and extensive records of soil and nutrients simply disappeared. Tobacco farms and factories that produced the legendary marques, once the pride of the families who owned them, fell into the hands of collectives, under management of the communist bureaucracy. Most of the world's most respected Grade 7 cigar rollers fled the regime. Many followed the cigar families to the Caribbean and Central America, while others opened tiny workshops and showrooms in Miami, Tampa, New Jersey, and other US cities, where they rolled their own cigars and sold them to the local Latin market. They were replaced by inexperienced youths, eager to have any job. This aborted 300 years of patient, meticulous seed development hat made pre-Castro Cuban cigars the envy of the world. The island had now lost its precious soil, the seeds that carried the genetic blueprints, the records, the talent of the tobacco and cigar families, and most veteran rollers. Cuba forgot how to make cigars.  
     
  As reward and initiative sank, so did quality ... even Zino Davidoff, the renowned Geneva tobacconist and Havana loyalist for decades, abandoned Cuba and moved to Dominican cigars.

Possibly most devastating, the magic of "ancestral" Cuban seed was lost ... or was it?
 
 
   

Worker fills individual germination cups with Habano Corojo 1951 seeds
Worker fills individual germination cups with Habano Corojo 1951 seeds

 
     
     
     
     
  Microphotograph of two Pinar del Rio seeds, before germination ... 16,000 seeds per gram, with 97% germination  
  Microphotograph of two Pinar del Rio seeds, before germination ... 16,000 seeds per gram, with 97% germination  
     
     
     
     
  The same Pinar del Rio plants at two-leaf stage, ten days after planting in the hothouse  
  The same Pinar del Rio plants at two-leaf stage, ten days after planting in the hothouse  
     
     
     
     
  Miniature but perfectly formed leaves on 2-week old Habano  
  Miniature but perfectly formed leaves on 2-week old Habano  
     
     
 
     
  ONLY THE VETERANS REMEMBER
Russia abandoned Cuba, leaving Castro to realize he had forfeited the international prestige and market dominance his cigars had once enjoyed. Sugar-tainted land now grew inferior tobacco, curing and fermenting cycles were shortened to meet demand, and inexperienced cigar rollers met Castro's rushed production schedules with poorly-made product. Smokers who knew the joy of the true, pre-Castro puro wept at what now came out of Havana.

America's cigar boom of the 90s awakened young smokers to premium cigars. Virtually none knew the flavor and aroma of a true Havana. These cigar buffs, enticed by the "forbidden fruit," pay exorbitant prices for illegal Cuban cigars by the millions ... more than half of which are fakes, according to US Customs. Why should Castro expend the effort and expense to improve quality, when buyers are willing to pay $20 for cigars that cost his regime 20 cents?
 
     
FORWARD TO THE PAST
My name is John Vogel, the director of Tabacos de la Cordillera ("Cigars of the Mountain Range"), both on our natural farm and in our factory. I am a graduate agronomical engineer, specializing in genetic engineering, dedicating my entire 40-year career to tobacco and cigars. I was a project leader in the Research and Development Department at the world's largest cigar manufacturer for 20 years, working in every area of their operations. My specialty was the development and improvement of genetically superior seed strains, knowing that, "Quality all stands on the worth of the seed."

During my consulting career, I collected a cache of genetically pure seeds ... 47 varieties in all. These seeds are the foundation for our present crops. These almost-forgotten pre-Castro seeds exist nowhere else in the world.

This is not a tale of smuggling seeds out of Cuba in a hollowed-out heel of a shoe. The acquisition of this rare genetical material occurred because of my work and travels worldwide. I met and formed associations with many leaders in the research field of tobacco ... industry-respected Habano leaf producers and genetical scientists. They included geneticists working for Cuban Land, the agricultural research institution that operated in Cuba until Castro disbanded it.

Selecting an envelope of Cuban Habano Corojo 1951 seeds for planting, from our exclusive seed bank of 47 genetically pure pre-Castro strains
Selecting an envelope of Cuban Habano Corojo 1951 seeds for planting, from our exclusive seed bank of 47 genetically pure pre-Castro strains

  The specimens were virtually all of Cuban lineage, most of them are directly from the island. Others are Cuban-seed tobacco, grown in other countries ... genuine African Cameroon and the original Dominican Olor. Some have slept peacefully for sixty years ... long before Castro's regime. One strain was the tobacco in not only Castro's personal cigars, but also those of the man he deposed, Fulgencio Batista. This cache of pure seed stock places Tabacos de la Cordillera in a unique position in the entire world of cigars. My years in the industry also give me the rare advantage of having sampled countless pre-Castro Havanas ... I know how they should taste!  
     
 
SETTING THE CLOCK BACK
My specialty and expertise lie in genetic improvement. By creating the strains, growing and processing the leaf, and managing the factory, we control everything from seed to smoke. On the Our Cigars page, you will see some of the proprietary ... and treasured ... genuine Cuban-seed tobaccos that make our cigars so spectacular.

With so many cigar makers touting "Cuban" taste, Tabacos de la Cordillera offers what no others can. We set the clock back 50 years, with the sumptuous flavor and tantalizing bouquet of authentic Havanas, grown from ancestral (pre-Castro) seed. Moreover, you can enjoy them at prices that reflect a day that cigar connoisseurs thought was long gone.
Cigars from Tabacos de la Cordillera are indeed the new world standard for premium cigars!

General Manager and genetics engineer John Vogel weighs out pre-Castro Cuban seed, prior to planting in hothouse germination beds) No changes needed on this caption.
Director
and genetics engineer John Vogel weighs out pre-Castro Cuban seed, prior to planting in hothouse germination beds

 
     
     
     
   
     
     
   
       

 


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