Posted on August 27, 2019
By Andrew Nagy
After a disappointing 2018 season plagued by heavy, consistent rains, cigar tobacco farmers in the Connecticut River Valley are optimistic that this year’s crop will yield some of the best leaf in years.
Recently, Cigar Aficionado had the opportunity to visit the three growers who make up the Windsor Shade Tobacco Co., a cooperative that stores and treats Connecticut Shade tobacco for shipment to cigar manufacturers. In addition to being the few remaining growers of the Connecticut Shade tobacco varietal—which once covered much of the valley—each of the farmers also grow Broadleaf.
Connecticut Shade is grown under elaborate tents of screen-like netting made of cheesecloth that filters the sun, making for thinner, finer leaves. When fully cured, the wrapper leaves are light in color, and are found on milder cigars. The shade netting not only offers some protection from insects, but also forces the tobacco plant to reach for the sun and grow tall. During our visit, the Shade plants were growing to about 9 feet tall and poking the top of the cheesecloth tents.