I view my journey into the tobacco world as a pilgrimage of sorts. A passionate cigar maker from the age of 16. I was blessed by growing up in Europe where cuban cigars were the only hand made cigars available. I have fond memories of going to the Davidoff shop in Geneva and Zino himself would put down his cigarette and come out and help me choose a cigar for my limited budget.
After graduating from college and working a number of years in the middle east selling helicopters, I decided to start my own cigar business in 1988, The haunting flavors of all the Cuban cigars I smoked in my youth still were vivid in my palate.
I went to Honduras where, through a classmate of mine, I was introduced to Don Jorge Buesos who had the kindness to take me under his wing and teach me all he knew about tobacco and cigars. I then realized that this was a mystical world, where man constantly struggled to harness the secret of nature. Being a cigar man is a never-ending learning process, and until this day I find myself listening and learning.
Don Jorge stressed to me the importance of growing tobacco and learning the variances in seed, soils, climate, altitude and culture. My First cigar line, Petrus, was born in Santa Rosa de Copan at La Flor de Copan. The Mayan heritage had served me well in Europe and the
However, I still could not match the flavors I so wanted to emulate. So, hat in hand, I continued my quest and went to Don Julio Eiroa, another legendary tobacco grower and cigar maker. Eiroa had the benefit of pure Cuban DNA transplanted to Honduras. He eats, breaths and lives Cuban even though he left Cuba years ago with Castro’s takeover of the Island. Again, I listened, watched and learned. My second brand and namesake Felipe Gregorio was born.
I went to Nicaragua and founded a factory in Condega in partnership with one of the largest tobacco growing cooperatives there under the guidance of Omar Ortiz. Omar brought to me his years of experience of growing tobacco and together we created the new blends that are found in my cigars. In Nicaragua, we presently grow all our wrapper, binder and filler. Thus we can consistently control all steps of the manufacturing process.
What led me to the Dominican Republic was none other than Frank Sinatra. Mr. Harvey Chaplin, the owner of Southern Wine & Spirits contacted me and told me that they had chosen me to make Frank Sinatra’s Cigar. I was doubly honored, Not only was I to make the cigar, but Sinatra insisted that the box read Sinatra by Felipe Gregorio. Being half-Italian this gesture meant the world to me! They had only one request, that the cigar be made by me in the Dominican Republic. I explained to thenm that i had no factory there and they simply told me to build one. This I did and
Tabacalera Real de Felipe Gregorio was born.
In 2000 I first visited Costa Rica and was impressed by the tobacco being grown there at high altidudes. After a trial period where I grew small batches of genetically pure Ancestral Cuban Seeds, I settled on 11 varieties including amongst others the Famed Pelo de Oro and Cola de Gallo (rooster tail) in 2007 I came out with our first cigars made from that tobacco: Power and in 2014 I decided to make three lines here; Felipe Gregorio Classic, Power & Pelo de Oro. In my 25 years in the business I have never seen tobacco of such quality, texture and aroma. I will be here for many years to come. The highlands of the Cordillera Central are truly a “Garden of Eden” as far as tobacco is concerned. My 25th anniversary cigar is made from tobaccos from here.The people who I have the honor to work with are humble, honest and true tobacco growers if you ever have the pleasure to set foot in our plantations you will see what I mean.