The History Of Arturo Fuente: Part 1
The Cuban Revolution saw the great expansion of cigars from a tiny island to tobacco regions worldwide. Historic brands such as Montecristo, Romeo y Julieta, and Partagas began their tales on the Caribbean island before different variations of their products were crafted outside of the country. More modern brands like Oliva, Davidoff, and Padrón also began in some way or another in Cuba before the revolution caused them to leave for greener pastures.
Yet, the story of Arturo Fuente begins quite differently. Fuente is now one of the best-selling cigars in the world, with one of the most loyal fan bases in the industry. Now, while the brand’s founder was born in Cuba, the brand itself was brought to life in the USA.
Arturo Fuente was born in Güines, Cuba, in 1888. Following the Spanish- American War, 12-year-old Arturo left his home and emigrated to the United States, settling in Tampa, Florida. Arturo saw the need for fresh, hand-rolled cigars in his community and started importing Cuban tobacco and rolling them himself. As his cigars rose in popularity, he hired workers and established his own three-story factory in 1912: A. Fuente & Co.
While cigars had become widely popular in the area, home to about 200 other cigar operations, smokers could tell there was something special about the Fuente brand. By 1924, the company employed 500 workers, yet production stopped that same year when the first of many tragedies struck—a fire that destroyed the building and forced Arturo to close up shop.
Due to the Great Depression and America’s entry into World War II, Fuente could not restart production until 1946. By then, Arturo had become a family man and welcomed his two sons into his business. One of these sons—Carlos—began sweeping the floors and helping out with odd jobs at night, while he and his wife also worked as bakers during the day to make ends meet. It would be Carlos who eventually took the Fuente company to heights that no one could have foreseen.
Until this time, Fuente was based in Tampa and rolled its cigars with Cuban tobacco. But let’s fast-forward to the 1960s when a significant change would catapult the company to greatness.
The History Of Arturo Fuente: Part 2
In 1958, Carlos Fuente Sr. bought A. Fuente & Co. from his father for one dollar. Carlos was ambitious and sought to spread the Fuente name throughout the country. However, more problems were on the horizon. Once the Cuban embargo was implemented, the company’s primary tobacco was cut off. Carlos faced a serious question: where would he get his tobacco now?
Carlos would attempt different blends using tobacco from around the world; Puerto Rican, Colombian, and even some American-grown leaves all failed to reach his expectation.
With the increase in American labor costs, the decision was made to bring the entire Fuente operation to Nicaragua. In the 1970s, Carlos opened up his factory in Estelí, one of the leading cigar-manufacturing regions of today.
But as fate would have it, the Fuente family faced yet another harrowing disaster during the Nicaraguan Revolution in 1979, when the Fuente factory was burned to the ground. Determined to make one last effort to save his company, Carlos and his son, Carlito, moved their operation to Santiago, Dominican Republic, in 1980. The newly named Tabacalera A. Fuente had finally found its home.
The company found renewed success in the Dominican Republic. The introduction of the medium-bodied Hemingway line in the 1980s brought newfound fame to the Fuente family. However, the company we know today really began to shine in the early 1990s, when Carlos’s son and partner, Carlito, introduced the first full-bodied Dominican puro. This cigar would revolutionize the industry.
That cigar was the Fuente Fuente Opus X, a powerhouse made with nothing but Dominican tobacco, including a special wrapper grown only on Chateau Fuente, the family’s farm. The perfect example of what a century of hard work and determination can create, Opus X is considered by many to be one of the greatest cigars ever crafted and has been lauded in Cigar Aficionado’s annual top-25 list eight times over the course of only ten years.