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Written by Gary J. Arzt

Friday, 03 April 2009

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torpedointro  The Dominican Republic was home to the second Pro Cigar Festival last week. The event, running from Sunday, February 15th, began with a reception and show at Altos de Chavon and continued with two and a half days in La Romana.

 

The assembled group visited Tabacalera Garcia’s Premium Hand Made factory, producing Romeo y Julieta, Monte Cristo, H. Upmann as well as Don Diego and Macanudo. A visit to the machine made factory also ensued, and the level of production of smokes, such as Dutch Masters, was mind boggling!

The activities, as well as the lunches and dinners in Santiago were beautifully organized and scripted. Unlike Pro Cigar Festival 2008, which one might, appropriately, refer to as ‘the pilot’, the guests were given more down time, and a variety of options to choose from, in addition to visiting tabacaleras.

Certainly, for golfers, the tournament hosted at Casa de Campo on the renowned Teeth of the Dog course, was one of the highlights of the festival. Not to be left out of the sports aspect of the festival, a tournament took place at La Aromas (what an apt name for a golf course in this cigar capital), Santiago de los Caballeros.

Our first day in Santiago, gave us the opportunity to choose between factory visits to La Aurora, MATASA or General Cigar. The avid golfers among us could participate in the golf tournament at Las Aromas. First, however; the golfers were afforded a welcome at the Santiago City Hall, making the entire group feel like Tiger Woods!

This was a reflection of the whole tenor of Pro Cigar Festival 09, as well as 08: the whole city of Santiago is involved, and the event is about Dominican culture as well as Dominican tobacco and cigars.

Whichever visit one made, we gathered around 1:45 PM for lunch and it was a marvelous opportunity to ask questions of, or just be sociable with Manuel Quesada, his daughters Raquel and Patricia, Jose “Blondie” Bermudez and another nephew, Horston…all very knowledgeable, charming and affable. It was like dining with family.

La Aurora’s Guillermo Leon and Jose Blanco joined us as well as Daniel Nunez and Modesta Fondeur from General Cigar.

pro_cigar_festival_09_055 Jose Blanco, VP Sales with the famous Stinky ashtray with thousands of ashes!

This marks the most significant difference between Pro Cigar Festival and the Festival de Habanos, in Havana, with began the following week. In the Dominican, you meet and spend time with the founders, managers, owners, blenders, etc. When you get to Cuba, you meet ‘functionaries,’ as the owners fled the island a long time ago!

It is the difference between touring the Ford Motor Company factory with Henry Ford, versus Alan Mulally. Of course, there is no “General” at General Cigar, but after thirty-eight years with the company, Daniel Nunez is a more than adequate stand-in for one!

As with all the meals the food was excellent and the ambiance was very convivial.

 





Comments 

 
0 # Mr.Bill Bartlett 2009-11-11 07:57
How do I find information on the 2010 Pro Cigar Festival? williambartlett

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