Finca El Pinar (Robaina Tobacco Plantation)

Pinar del Río Province

The famous Robaina vegas (fields), in the rich Vuelta Abajo region southwest of Pinar del Río, have been growing quality tobacco since 1845, but it wasn't until 1997 that a brand of cigars known as Vegas Robaina was first launched to wide international acclaim. The former owner Alejandro Robaina, who made the brand so famous, died in April 2010. But the show must go on, and does at the plantation today. It's been open to outside visitors for some years.

With some deft navigational skills, you can roll up to the farm and get the lowdown on the tobacco-making process from delicate plant to aromatic wrapper: tours are 25 minutes long.

To get there, take the Carretera Central southwest out of Pinar del Río for 12km, turn left toward San Luis and left again after approximately 3km at the Robaina sign. This rougher track continues for 1.5km to the farm. Do not hire a jintero (tout) to lead you, as they often take you to the wrong farm. Tours are available every day. The tobacco-growing season runs from November to February, and this is obviously the best time to visit. Plants only reach an impressive height from December.

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