The 2015 Cigar Coop Factory of the Year Award for a Small / Single Operation goes to La Zona.
When Erik Espinosa launched Espinosa Premium Cigars in 2012, he would also purchase a two story inn located in Esteli, Nicaragua that would become his very own factory – La Zona, It didn’t take long for La Zona to become the hub of Espinosa’s cigar production operations.
The factory employs traditional Cuban style production with entubado rolling and triple caps.
In 2014, La Zona produced the Espinosa Laranja Reserva – which Espinosa Cigars’ biggest hit to date. For 2015 the company did not rest on its laurels as La Zona produced several new lines for Espinosa including the Espinosa Especial, the re-vamped Espinosa Habano, and the return of Murcielago. In addition Espinosa added an extension to Laranja – the Caixa. All under the watchful eye of Espinosa and his Factory Operations Manager Hector Alfonso Sr., the company maintained consistency and quality throughout the year.
In particular, La Zona had a challenge bringing back Murcielago as the original blend was not made available to them. This involved La Zona reverse engineering the blend to attempt to re-create what the original was.
At the same time, Espinosa Cigars has become a sought after factory for many other brand owners. La Zona produces cigars for Arandoza, La Sirena, MoyaRuiz, Catelli Cigar Company, and Cubariqueno Cigar Company. La Zona also produced the Eddie Ortega and Sean Williams collaboration Larceny. With all of these lines, the same consistency and quality standards were also present.
The story of Cubariqueno’s first release Protocol was one of the big revelations in the small batch cigar market this year. This started as a project for social media cigar enthusiasts Juan Cancel and Bill Ives. Less than three months later, the duo was at IPCPR with a cigar garnering critical acclaim.
The sky seems to be the limit for La Zona, and if 2015 is an indication of things to come, this could be the tip of the iceberg.
I think La Zona is candidate for factory / company of the year. You look at the number of projects that came out including the La Sirena Porthole as well, and the La Zona factory and Espinosa Cigars were firing on all cylinders.