The first two days of my trip I spent touring the facilities of Arturo Fuente Cigars. Every factory has its own charm, and finds many ways to impress me. I had heard the stories about Tabacalera A. Fuente, Chateau de la Fuente, and Cigar Family. Now was my first opportunity to see these up close and personal. There is no article that I can write that will do justice to describing this place and the incredible detail of production processes. Hopefully, this piece provides a taste of things.
But before I comment on what I observed there is a bigger story here. While Arturo Fuente has run tours to the Chateau de la Fuente farm, this is the first year that Arturo Fuente has opened up a tour to the attendees to the Tabacalera A. Fuente factory. While Arturo Fuente is one of the most popular brands in the world, I would say when it came to peeling the onion, there is a lot that many people (including myself) can learn.
Over the past two years, particularly through the pandemic, things have started to change. During this period, the Fuente family have lifted some of that guard, and they have been more engaged when it comes to media interaction. Over the past 18 months, I have gotten to know Carlos “Carlito” Fuente quite well. He realizes these media platforms not only provide a way for him to tell his story, but preserve these stories for future generations. I believe the opening of the Fuente factory for ProCigar 2022 is a part of telling this story.
When it comes to family and heritage, these are two things very important to Carlito. Given these things, I can understand why Carlito wants his legacy preserved. One other thing, Carlito loves cigars and the cigar industry. As one tours Fuente, you will see how family and heritage are reflected in almost every aspect of the entire facility. As I also learned, there is a lot with giveback, and as much as Carlito Fuente, his family, and team love cigars; their commitment to the Cigar Family Charitable Foundation is perhaps even more important.
Tabacalera A. Fuente (La Catedral de Tabaco)
The factory has anything but an industrial feel. Thie main gallery at La Catedral de Tabaco looks like anything but a factory, but it’s a working area for the products of Arturo Fuente. In particular, production of the core lines is done here.
The main galera (rolling room) is adorned with history and heritage surrounding the Fuente family. Below is an image of the Columbia restaurant in Ybor City, a favorite of the Fuente family – and the inspiration for some of the design of the galera.
There are other galeras in the factory. Each has a theme, and each is used to roll a specialty line produced by the factory. These also incorporate the heritage and history of the family and pay homage to the history of tobacco. Below is Gran Salon La India – paying homage to the indigenous peoples of the Americas who grew and used tobacco.
In addition, the Age of Exploration played a key role as the explorers and conquistadors learned about tobacco from the indigenous people. The Fuentes pay homage to this in the Gran Salon Los Conquistadors.
Of course, there is a galera reserved for the crown jewel brand of the Arturo Fuente portfolio, Fuente Fuente OpusX.
As much as Tabacalera A. Fuente is committed to traditional hand-crafted cigar making, the factory has plenty of innovations. Perhaps one of the most interesting things I saw was a mold machine. This was one of the few things I saw that had more of an industrial feel in the facilities, but it was still amazing. It’s a machine that is programmed to robotically carve out a cigar mold. If you’ve wondered how Arturo Fuente creates some of the most unusual cigar shapes, it is because of this.
Two other interesting things in the factory were the life-size replica of the Ybor City Fuente family home and an actual automobile used by the Fuentes to make deliveries when they were in Ybor City.
Chateau de la Fuente
It’s not just the factory that has art and symbolism, the farm, Chateau de la Fuente, also is loaded with these types of things.
Carlito loves the land, and he is very proud of the land where Chateau de la Fuente is located. On this view below, he talked about the beauty of the pine trees that are adjacent to the mountains that surround the land.
Ernest Hemingway plays a key role in the Fuente story (after all, there is a line that has the Hemingway name on it). At Chateau de la Fuente, there is a house modeled after the Hemingway House and Museum located in Key West, Florida. It’s another example of heritage and history incorporated into the Fuente operation.
Of course, there is tobacco at Chateau de la Fuente. The entrance to the curing barns was adorned with the OpusX logo:
While one can not help but be amazed by Tabacalera A. Fuente and Chateau de la Fuente, the visit to the Cigar Family was perhaps the most moving piece of this tour. Founded by the Fuente and Newman families, this facility is located in the Bonao region outside Santiago and it provides an opportunity for children in this impoverished region to receive education, vocational training, healthcare, and clean water. This region suffers from extreme poverty and a poor educational system. Prior to the construction of Cigar Family, this region was also one of the most dangerous regions in the Dominican Republic. The Fuente and Newman families fund all of the administrative costs of the Cigar Family Charitable Foundation with all donations and fundraising going right directly into the Cigar Family.
When we were welcomed to Cigar Family by Carlito Fuente and Eric Newman, we also heard from a doctor who works at the facility who received education from Cigar Family.
The tour included visits to several classrooms.
We also got to see students in action doing arts, sports, and music.
Special thanks to Carlito Fuente, Ciro Cascella, and José Blanco. The access I received during these two days was greatly appreciated. The team at Arturo Fuente was extremely accommodating to my needs during this visit. In the past couple of years, I’ve learned a lot about the Arturo Fuente story and legacy. To see this in action at Tabacalera A. Fuente, Chateau de la Fuente, and Cigar Family took things to another level. As I stated in the introduction, this article won’t do it full justice.
Procigar does an amazing job at organization and working with the cigar makers such as Arturo Fuente Cigars. I express my thanks to them as well.
Photo Credits: Cigar Coop