Part 3 of Tobacco Business Magazine’s special feature “The Fantastic Four,” which looks at the cigar making super team behind Davidoff Cigars. In this part, we take a look at Manuel Peralta, Oettinger Davidoff’s chief agronomist. You can read the previous installments on Hendrik Kelner (click here) and Hamlet Espinal (click here).
Manuel Peralta: The Tobacco Whisperer
Those strict quality-control standards extend far beyond the factory and begin with every tobacco seed that Tabadom plants, every priming the company pulls from its fields, every leaf that it hangs in its curing barns and every pilon of fermenting tobacco. Producing the best tobacco takes patience and requires an uncanny ability to determine what the tobacco is telling its producers. With 47 years of experience growing and processing tobacco, Peralta is Tabadom’s chief agronomist. Having known no other career, Peralta possesses a depth of knowledge and experience that is nearly unrivaled in the premium tobacco industry, and it’s a job that has given him a lot of pleasure throughout the years.
“Working with tobacco is a joy; it is my passion,” Peralta explains. “If we give the tobacco our dedication and our attention—a lot of attention—it responds to our efforts and dedication by growing well and strong. This is pure pleasure. Difficulties in growing and processing tobacco occur when we do not dedicate the right amount of time that it needs and merits. The time we dedicate to tobacco is never enough; we are always there to please this friend.”
Tabadom contracts with numerous farmers in roughly 15 different growing regions, most of which are located in the Dominican Republic’s Cibao Valley. As the company’s chief agronomist, Peralta spends a lot of time with these farmers, ensuring that they adhere to the company’s strict quality standards. His favorite time of day are his mornings spent in the tobacco fields, when the leaves stretch skyward, soaking in the sun and transporting the dew from the previous night to the root system.
Many of those tobacco plants with which Peralta communes most mornings come from seeds that he has helped Tabadom develop throughout the years. Davidoff has been a leader in developing new seed strains—702 and Yamasa are just two examples. The research and development of new seeds are driven by two goals: creating tobaccos that are stronger and more resilient in the fields and that present new sensory characteristics that meet the demands of an ever-changing cigar market.