Farmers, most of whom came from the Canary Islands, arrived around 1800 and began cultivating tobacco across the region, which is commonly known as the Vuelta Abajo. Two hundred years later, tobacco is still the lifeblood of the Viñales Valley, which produces 661,000 quintals of it every year. Only the best leaves get sent to Havana, where hundreds of workers called torcedores and anilladores handroll them into cigars. Cuba produces 65 million cigars a year, packed in cedarwood boxes and exported to the entire world.
Growing tobacco calls for patience. Some even say that the plant grows better if you speak to it. Once the seeds are sown (between October and December), the moment to reap and pack is of critical importance, marking all the difference between acidity, sourness or waste-product.