CONNECTICUT'S ONLY HANDMADE CIGAR
Connecticut has a proud tradition of growing and harvesting some of the finest cigar tobaccos in the world. These same local shade and broadleaf tobaccos are hand rolled into cigars by the Connecticut Valley Tobacconist L.L.C., in the historical Hazardville section of Enfield. We take great pride in keeping this time-honored tradition alive by celebrating the fine crops of the Connecticut farmer, by masterfully crafting these tobaccos into a fine work of art - The Cigar.
|Connecticut Valley Tobacconist would like to take this opportunity to thank those of you who had a chance to stop by our booth at this years BIG E and NEW YORK STATE FAIR. The following article appeared in the Syracuse Post-Standard on August 30, 2002.
Cigar rolling ignites passion
Cuban native works with Connecticut tobacco at New York State Fair.
August 30, 2002
By Jim Reilly
Staff writer - The Post-Standard
Walter Pena doesn't talk much when he's working, but his fingers never stop. They are as expressive as any poet.
Pena rolls cigars for the Connecticut Valley Tobacconist. He's at work every day, center stage, in the tiny, aromatic tobacconist stand across from Santillo's food stand. This is the company's fifth year at the fair, and the first they brought along their own roller.
Michael Tarnowicz, a Connecticut valley native and owner of the shop, says Pena has been rolling for him for about a year, since Tarnowicz decided to produce his own cigars.
Pena uses tobacco grown in the Connecticut River Valley, famous for its fine tobacco wrappers, the supple outer leaf that gives a cigar its shape, smooth smoke and even burn.
Pena is from Havana, Cuba. Tarnowicz found him in Miami, where a number of ex-Cubanos make their living rolling cigars from Honduran, Costa Rican and Nicaraguan tobacco.
Because of the U.S. embargo against Cuba, its cigars and tobaccos are banned from this country, much to the chagrin of cigar lovers. Cubans are the Rolls Royces and Bentleys of cigars.
But with choice Central American tobaccos wrapped in Connecticut broadleaf or Connecticut shade - they grow it under tents, gently - Tarnowicz says his hand-rolled cigars give the Cubans a run for the money. If you want smooth, they've got smooth; if you want rich, they've got rich; and if you want power, they've got Old Powderkeg.
"It's thermonuclear," said Tarnowicz, "the strongest cigar we make. It's got explosive undertones."
The cigar is in honor of Col. Hazard - "Old Powderkeg" - a Union officer and chief gunpowder supplier of the federal troops during the Civil War (and some say of quite a few Confederate troops as well; he was, after all, a businessman before he became a soldier). Tarnowicz and his brother, also at the stand, are from Hazardville, named for the Civil War colonel.
Even if you don't smoke, it's hard not to appreciate the skill, the dexterity, the subtle manipulative magic of Walter Pena's hands. It doesn't matter that he doesn't speak English. His hands show what's necessary.
When he rolls, it's as if the rest of him disappears: He's all in his hands, and you can't stop watching them.