March 20, 1919|
|Died||April 17, 2010
San Luis, Pinar del Río, Cuba
Robaina was born in Alquízar in La Habana Province of Cuba but he grew up and lived most of his life in the renowned tobacco-growing Vuelta Abajo district of Pinar del Río Province where his family had been growing tobacco since 1845. He became involved with his family's tobacco growing business at the age of ten, having smoked his first cigar just shortly before then. He took over the operations of the plantation after the death of his father Maruto Robaina—also an acclaimed tobacco grower—in 1950 and remained an independent grower even after the 1959 Cuban Revolution when plantations were often absorbed into cooperative organizations. In a 2006 interview with Cigar Aficionado magazine, Robaina stated that he spoke with Castro and that he "told Fidel I did not like cooperatives or state farms and that the best way to grow tobacco was through family production. He wanted me to join a cooperative and I told him no."
The tobacco leaves from Robaina's plantations are often considered among the best in the world and have been used by high quality cigars brands such as Cohiba and Hoyo de Monterrey. Robaina himself has been dubbed the "Godfather of Cuban tobacco."
During the 1990s, Robaina was recognized by the Cuban government as the country's best tobacco grower. In 1997, Vegas Robaina cigar brand was created by the Cuban government-owned company Habanos S.A. to honour Robaina's accomplishments in the industry, although cigar experts have had a hard time detecting Robaina's tobacco in the cigar and Robaina himself never provided a definitive answer. Robaina is the only tobacco grower with a Cuban cigar named after himself and has spent several decades travelling the world as Cuba's unofficial tobacco and cigar ambassador. His travelling subsided as he got older and he received visits at his home and plantation by thousands of cigar enthusiasts and tourists annually.
Robaina was diagnosed with cancer in 2009 and died in his home on his tobacco plantation near San Luis, Pinar del Río. He handed over the majority of the day-to-day operations of the plantation to his grandson Hiroshi several years before his death.
- Grimes, William. Alejandro Robaina, Grower for Top Cuban Cigars, Dies at 91, The New York Times, April 19, 2010. Accessed April 21, 2010.
- Weissert, Will. Hundreds bid Cuban cigar legend Robaina farewell, Associated Press, April 19, 2010. Accessed April 21, 2010
- Koay, Allan. Don Alejandro Robaina, master of cigars, The Star, May 26, 2005. Accessed April 21, 2010.
- Darlington, Shasta. 'Godfather' of Cuban tobacco dead at 91, CNN, April 17, 2010. Accessed April 21, 2010.
- Suckling, James. Cigar Diary: Cuba's Cigar Legend, Cigar Aficionado, October 1, 2006. Accessed April 21, 2010.
- Franks, Jeff. Cuban tobacco legend Alejandro Robaina dies at 91, Reuters, April 17, 2010. Accessed April 21, 2010.
- Franks, Jeff. Ailing Cuba tobacco legend celebrates 91st birthday, Reuters, March 21, 2010. Accessed April 21, 2010.
- Cuban cigar legend Alejandro Robaina dies aged 91, BBC News, April 18, 2010. Accessed April 21, 2010.