Christian Luis Eiroa was born the youngest of three children in Danli, Honduras in 1972. Just days after he was born, he was taken to the Jamastran farm. Christian grew up living with his family in a house that was converted from an old school. That very same house still exists today.
Christian’s summers were filled with odd jobs in fermentation and driving jeeps at the farms. As young as the age of 8 he was helping move tobacco around. It can be said that he was being indoctrinated to be in tobacco his entire life. It was during his formative years that tough love sank in with education being provided by boarding schools until he finally graduated from Riverside Military Academy in Gainesville, GA. Christian now serves on their Board of Visitors of his alma mater.
He received a degree in Business Administration from St. Thomas University in 1993, where he now serves on the Board of Entrepreneurship and a Master’s of International Business Administration from Nova Southeastern University in 1995.
It was in 1995 when Christian returned to Honduras to learn about tobacco and cigars. His training put him on the fast track to learning as much about the trade as possible as his timing coincided with the cigar boom of the 1990s. Understanding the business came natural to Christian since it was the environment in which he grew up.
As the cigar boom came to an end in 1997, the board decided to send Christian back to Miami to learn how to sell cigars under his lifetime friend and mentor, the late Sal Fontana. It was in 2000 that Christian made his mark with the launching of the Camacho Corojo. Although the cigar was extraordinary, it was the marketing behind it that made all the difference. He began to host all of his customers in Honduras where the entire process was explained week after week for seven years.
When Camacho Cigars was purchased in 2008, Christian remained with the company for the duration of the transition until 2011 when he decided to venture on his own. In July of 2012 Christian once again returned to the cigar industry with the launch of C.L.E. Cigar Company. This company was different than anything that had been done in the past and truly captivated Christian’s most consistent mentality breaking away from the norm and always asking one question: “Why not?”
Julio Eiroa was born in San Juan y Martinez, Cuba on January 11, 1938. He was the ultimate rebellious child. After being sent home from Belen Jesuit High School in Havana, his mother opted to send him to Admiral Farragut Academy in St. Petersburg, FL. It was during this time that he built a very close relationship with the Oliva family, which would prove to be the most important relationship in his professional life.
He returned to Cuba in 1958, but while studying at La Universidad de la Habana, he had to flee from Cuba and Batista for being a troublemaker. Later he found out that he was a part of many other young men known as the “useful idiots” who helped Fidel Castro’s cause.
Somehow, Julio always found time to work with his brother sorting tobacco from La Victoria del Corojo, even at the very young age of 12. The Victoria farm was what kept them together as a family. It was truly a very beautiful story of brothers bonding together to help their family.
When the Eiroa family left Cuba in 1960, Julio began to work at Perfecto Garcia, along with his brother. There he was in charge of everything from sweeping the floors to making sure the tobacco was blended properly before sending it to the machines. A couple of years later he received a call to participate in the Bay of Pigs Invasion. He was a true Cuban patriot who wanted his country to return to its freedom. After an unsuccessful campaign, he served the rest of his army days in Korea.
When he returned from Korea, Angel Oliva invited him to go to Honduras to help process and cure the tobacco grown by Tino Argudin, an explorer whose mission was to find tobacco in other countries to replace the Cuban seed which had fallen under the embargo. Honduras and especially the Jamastran Valley were close to Angel Oliva’s heart because it was the only tobacco he had found to be close enough to the unavailable Cuban leaf.
After the first crop, Julio decided to go on his own. He formed a partnership with Corral Wadiska (Bering Cigars), growing tobacco for them. Candela is their crop of choice. Candela \is a Connecticut Variety called Moonlight which is dried with grills in the barns for 48 hours at 120 degrees. The end result is a green leaf that was most popular in the late 1960s-1970s. His involvement growing candela grew to include another partnership with U.S. Tobacco under their CEO, Lou Bantle. In 1972 they were growing 2,000 acres mainly for two customers.
In 1977, Julio had an airplane accident in a Cessna 185 that left him paralyzed and forced him to retire from growing tobacco for the next eight years while he learned how to walk again. During this time period, Julio moved his family to Tampa after the purchase of Perfecto Garcia in 1979, the very same factory that purchased his father’s tobacco and that gave him a job sweeping floors. After two years in Tampa Julio realized that his passion was in growing tobacco and making handmade cigars.
In 1985 Julio Eiroa decided to take the reins of the farm where Bering and he were partners. Sadly, during this time, Bering was sold to Swisher and they no longer needed tobacco. This is when Julio decided to get into the cigar business once again. Julio’s first big customer was Sal Fontana, who owned a brand called Baccarat “The Game”. Within a short period of time, Julio ended up owning this company and in 1995 he also purchased Camacho from the heirs of Mr. Simon Camacho.
It was in 1997 that Julio began to grow the famous Authentic Corojo seed again at a farm called Sta. Inez del Corojo, owned by a Mr. Diego Rodriguez. While this see has a very low yield in comparison to today’s hybrids, it is the only seed able to deliver a heightened level of strength, body, and flavor. In December of 1999 the Corojo seed was reintroduced to the U.S. Market as a test with Two Guys Smokeshop in Nashua, NH. By June of 2000 it became available to the U.S. in the Camacho line. This seed and cigar completely revolutionized the cigar industry making “Corojo” a trend. It changed the direction of the premium cigar industry by introducing a $5 full body cigar into the market.
In 2008 the Oettinger Davidoff Group acquired the Camacho brand and Julio’s business. Davidoff was able to elevate Camacho to one of the most popular brands in the world and Julio once again retired from cigar making to focus solely on growing tobacco. Julio Eiroa continues to reside in the Jamastran Valley as he did back in 1963 at the age of 25.
Today Mr. Julio Eiroa enjoys blending cigars and is more focused than ever on growing tobacco. In 2015 Julio began his newest business venture with Aladino Cigars, which are rolled out of the Las Lomas Factory in the Jamastran Valley.
Generoso J. Eiroa Jr. was born in San Juan y Martinez on September 16, 1935. The oldest of three boys, he had the responsibility of getting involved in the Victoria del Corojo farm at the age of 14, when his father, Generoso Sr., began his battle with Alzheimer’s Disease. He began first in the sorting of the tobacco from La Victoria del Corojo and at the age of 20, he controlled the entire operation. Outside of work, Generoso Jr. still managed to graduate from Belen High School in Havana in 1952 and received his accounting degree from La Universidad de la Habana thereafter. His last year at La Victoria was 1960. In October of that year, Victoria Eiroa and her three boys left Cuba with hopes to return after Christmas that year. Unfortunately, that return trip never happened.
Fortunately for both Generoso Jr. and Julio Eiroa, Manuel Garcia from Perfecto Garcia and Bros. in Tampa offered them work at his factory. Perfecto Garcia and Bros was La Victoria’s largest customer and welcomed the Eiroas with open arms. Generoso Jr. worked in the sorting department and fixed machines, while his younger brother, Julio worked in receiving, bulk sorting and fumigation for all incoming tobacco.
Once established, Generoso Jr., now married and with his first born, was offered an opportunity with Angel Oliva in 1963 to ferment Candela wrappers in Quincy, FL. When the embargo took place, Mr. Angel Oliva began to experiment with different regions. In 1963 both Generoso and Julio found themselves on their way to Honduras and Nicaragua where they would get involved in different experiments. Generoso was sent to Copan, Honduras and Julio to the Jamastran Valley in Honduras.
In Copan, Honduras Generoso was asked to run the sorting operations for their Honduran tobacco. On April 13, 1963 Angel Oliva asked Julio Eiroa to go to Danli to sort some other tobacco purchased from the Honduran government. These were trying and interesting times because it was the first time that Dark Air Cured Tobacco was being grown in Central America. Angel Oliva and other leaf brokers needed to find a different source of tobacco to replace the Cuban Leaf which was made illegal due to the U.S.-Cuban Embargo. The lands were not ready and the people had never seen this before. Finding the right lands and right people was a tremendous challenge and so the brothers were forced to move around often in search of the perfect location.
After the Copan project was unsuccessful, Generoso Jr moved to Esteli, Nicaragua where he would run a project for the National Development Bank. One farm was a 20 acre property called Las Conchas of sun grown tobacco; the other was Pasos de Leon made up of 10 acres. Both farms grew sun grown and Candela tobaccos.
Generoso Jr. was soon offered the opportunity to go to Jalapa, Nicaragua in 1964 at a farm owned by Mr. Rene Morales and Anastacio “Tacho” Somoza. There he held a 20% stake for a 1,000 acre crop of Candela and sun grown tobaccos. If one thing was clear, it was that the Eiroa brothers had a very strong sense of family and after everything they had gone through, they would do whatever it took to stay together.
In October of 1965, Generoso relocated once again to help Julio who had struck gold in the Jamastran Valley with powerful tobacco and most importantly, a solid customer who would become his partner. Corral Wodiska, from Bering Cigar (who would later sell his company to Swisher) had the demand for Candela wrappers that the Eiroa brothers desperately needed. In partnership with Dona Aida, Norma Sevilla and Justo Rodriguez (all large landowners in the Jamastran Valley) and Jose “Pepe” Quesada for stripping, they were able to gain capital, lands and a guaranteed customer.
Soon they were growing 400 acres of Candela and Sun Grown tobaccos. It was in 1983 when the demand for these wrappers began to dwindle and cigar sales dropped in general in the U.S. In February of that year, Generoso Jr. accepted the position as President of INETAB (Universal Tobacco) in the Dominican Republic. In that position he was in charge of 80% of all Piloto, Criollo and Olor tobacco purchases. Making his mark through the 1990s cigar boom, Generoso finally retired in September of 2003 by mandate of the parent company. Today, Generoso Jr continues to reside in the Dominican Republic and sells leaf for Tobaco Flor Los Reyes.
In the late 1800s Mr. Generoso Eiroa left his home village of Viveiro, Spain in Galicia for Cuba, seeking the opportunities that the beautiful island was known for providing at the turn of the century. Years later he would begin his journey into the tobacco industry. In 1916 he became a ship captain for The Cuban Land and Leaf Tobacco Company. His route was from Punta de Cartas (just south of Pinar del Rio) to Las Martinas, where the company would grow much of their tobacco. By the time he became a Cuban citizen in 1926 he was in charge of coordinating logistics for all the growers that would supply The Cuban Land and Leaf Tobacco Company, a position he maintained until the day he died.
Through the years Generoso would extend his relationship with tobacco by being the only FORD Motor Co. dealer in San Juan y Martinez. His main focus was selling and financing tractors, trucks and vehicles and he provided fuel, oil and maintenance. A few years later he became the dealer for Westinghouse and Frigidaire. He always seemed to identify the needs for tobacco growers and recognize the opportunity to supply these needs.
In 1936, Mr. Eiroa purchased a 70 acre farm, which he would later name Victoria del Corojo after his beautiful young bride, Victoria Alvarez de la Campa. The farm is situated just two kilometers from the world famous Santa Inez del Corojo and the rich Vuelta Abajo Valley in Pinar del Rio, Cuba. This would be the beginning of Generoso’s love affair with tobacco that would be extended by his three boys, Generoso, Julio and Francisco Eiroa; and then to his grandchildren Generoso Eiroa, Christian Eiroa and Justo Eiroa; and great-grandchildren Gabriela Avila Eiroa and Julio Iglesias Eiroa.
In the Vuelta Abajo Valley there was a farm named Santa Inez del Corojo that was owned by Mr. Diego Rodriguez. Diego would take the best plants from each crop and draw seed from them. This tobacco became known as “El Corojo” and it is the tobacco that made Cuban cigars famous during the 1940s and 1950s. The seed was abandoned and replaced in 1987 mainly due to its low yield and high susceptibility to diseases and fungus. One such disease is knows as the Blue Mold that invaded the Americas starting in the late 1970s and is still a factor today. This particular seed was replaced by many hybrids over the years, which eventually evolved into what you see today: Havana 2000, Criollo 98, Corojo 99, and Corojo 2006. However, none of these are actually related to the original Corojo seed.
Unfortunately, Daniel Rodriguez, Diego’s grandson, failed to renew the registration for “Corojo” and in 1996 it lapsed. Due to the USPTO (United States Patent and Trademark Office), the registration can no longer be renewed and thus, the name is widely used and unprotected. Many would agree there is no seed that compares to the rich taste, full body, and sweet finish of the Authentic Corojo.
Generoso Eiroa would not live to see his love affair with tobacco move on to the next generation as he died in 1951. At that time his two eldest sons, Generoso and Julio Eiroa continued to develop their relationship with the Perfecto Garcia Factory in Tampa under the watch of the Godfather of Dark Air Cured Tobacco, Mr. Angel Oliva, who was the person most responsible for developing the leaf trade outside of Cuba after the U.S. Cuban Embargo in 1962.