March 1, 2012 (Havana, Cuba) — The 14th edition of the Habanos Festival, the traditional gathering in Havana, Cuba of lovers of the best tobacco in the world began on Monday, February 27th. The Festival attracts 1500 participants from more than 70 countries. Among them are numerous personalities from around the world, including American actor and Habanos enthusiast Jim Belushi, who tasted the first product launch at the event: the Cohiba Pirámides Extra, exclusively presented at the Welcoming Night.

During this event, the legendary British guitarists Jack Bruce and Phil Manzanera, and the Cuban singer Augusto Enriquez, played at a concert featuring a mixture of different influences and Cuban musical styles including son, rumba, bolero, rock and Afro-Cuban jazz.

In addition to the plantations visit in Vuelta Abajo (D.O.P), the preliminary stage of Habanos (D.O.P.) and Vinhos do Porto (D.O.C. – Port Wines) alliance was held. Another union of exclusive products occurred on Tuesday: a tasting of the two of the most prestigious Cuban brands’ top range products with one of the most prized rums by expert distillers, Havana Club Máximo Reserva 100 años, an exceptional and very limited edition; and the Cohiba Behike, the most exclusive line of the emblematic Cohiba brand.

Another significant combination of Habanos with the world’s best gastronomy occurred Wednesday: the event celebrated the 520th Anniversary of the discovery of tobacco in Cuba by Europeans. Chef Sergio Torres, from the Dos Cielos restaurant in Barcelona, awarded one Michelin star, attended this event. He has designed one of the main dishes tasted during the night. His creative culinary concept was based on the gastronomic exchange which occurred with the discovery of the New World: American native frijoles with mushrooms and native truffles from Europe. Montecristo 520 Edición Limitada 2012 was the most exclusive Habanos presentation of the night.

Andrés Arteaga, from Chile, Luis García, from México and Cuban Daniel Reyes, will have to wait until Friday to discover which one of them is the best Habanosommelier. The prestigious Award recognises the increased interest in seeking advice from experts in gastronomy and tobacco at some of the world´s most exclusive restaurants.

Ahead of the Gala Dinner event on Friday, March 2nd, which will mark the closure of the XIV Habanos Festival, the documentary Cigars: The Heart and Soul of Cuba will be shown. The film was produced by James Suckling and directed by James Orr, recognized film director of films such as Three Men and a Baby, Mr. Destiny and Father of the Bride.

The Gala Dinner will be dedicated to Romeo y Julieta and will include the launch of two new products – Romeo y Julieta Churchills Reserva 2008, the first Reserva from the brand, and Romeo y Julieta Petit Churchills, a new vitola that will delight – thanks to its format – the characteristic aromatic and balanced flavor offered by the brand. The Festival will conclude with the traditional Auction of Humidors which represent the most prestigious Habanos brands: Cohiba, Montecristo, Romeo y Julieta, Partagás, Hoyo de Monterrey and H. Upmann. The money raised will be donated to the Cuban Public Health System which over the past 11 years has received over $9 million as a result of the auction.

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Patrick Lagreid

I strive to capture the essence of a cigar and the people behind them in my work – every cigar you light up is the culmination of the work of countless people and often represents generations of struggle and stories. For me, it’s about so much more than the cigar – it’s about the story behind it, the experience of enjoying the work of artisans and the way that a good cigar can bring people together. In addition to my work with halfwheel, I’m the public address announcer for the Colorado Rockies and Arizona Diamondbacks during spring training, as well as for the Salt River Rafters of the Arizona Fall League, the WNBA's Phoenix Mercury and the Arizona Rattlers of the Indoor Football League. I also work in a number of roles for, plus I'm a voice over artist. I previously covered the Phoenix and national cigar scene for, and was an editor for Cigar Snob magazine.