A highlight of my week leading CNN TV anchor Michael Smerconish and family in Cuba was our visit to Finca Pinar San Luis… the tobacco farm of Hirochi Robaina.
As Michael says in his recent CNN video post and Philadelphia Inquirer report, “For 30 years, I’ve nursed a cigar-a-day habit that made me keenly interested to visit farms in the legendary Pinar del Rio province, which generates the world’s finest smoking tobacco.”
Michael’s report tells the tale of our journey and of Hirochi’s entrepreneurship as well as I can. What is missing is the sense of heartfelt passion for cigars that the two personalities share.
Here are the two of them enjoying one of Hirochi’s own HR brand cigars made in Nicaragua.
Michael clearly reveled in the visit as Hirochi and his sidekick and very capable manager Ivan Hernández showed us around the farm and explored the process of growing tobacco (and the secret of his own farm’s success).
After graduating, Hirochi was sent to Havana by his grandfather Alejandro (a world-renowned ambassador of Cuban cigars) to learn how to roll cigars at one of the state-run export-quality factories.
Hirochi even rolled a stogie for Michael… then gifted us each a rare HR brand cigar from his personal humidor. (The HR cigar are not sold in Cuba, where the state has a monopoly on all cigar production and sales.)
Cuba is endlessly satisfying… and this day brought to mind George Burns’ humorous remark: “Happiness? A good cigar, a good meal, a good cigar and a good woman – or a bad woman; it depends on how much happiness you can handle.”