*Kara and I are busy practicing our smoke rings for this weekend’s epic Crush & Roll event in Paso Robles. Find out why Ladies are lighting up in this guest blog from the Ladies of Crush & Roll* holly
Who doesn’t like to end the day with a few hours among friends? For some, the unwind occurs over dinner and drinks. For others, it’s a crushing workout class at the local gym. But for San Luis Obispo resident Michele Doage, relaxation takes on a slightly different form. For this lively hotel receptionist, the end of the day signals time to smoke a cigar. It is a hobby she began a decade ago, and Doage claims it is as therapeutic as it is delicious.
“Cigars are like fine wines,” she says. “There are so many varieties and so much sensory experience associated with them.”
Doage echoes the sentiments of a growing number of Central Coast aficionados – men and women – who have traded local bars for cigar lounges and Heinekens for Montecristos. “Every month there are more and more people who come in to explore the world of cigars,” says Christina Fontecchio, owner of The Boss, a cigar lounge in Arroyo Grande. “We see a real cross-section of people and there is a cigar for every one of them.”
Once a male-dominated pastime, cigar smoking is rapidly gaining popularity among women. “Cigars have now hit the radar among the sisterhood,” said writer Sharon Krum in a recent column for Cigar Life, an internet magazine. “They’re happening, they’re cool, they get you dates, and frankly, I think they’re turning into a post-feminist icon.”
Krum writes that cigar lounges are entirely different from the bar scene. They are not “meat markets,” she says. “Women can go there, socialize, enjoy a cigar and relax.”
Doage agrees. “While there’s nothing wrong with a cigar on the porch at home,” she says, “the enjoyment is exponential when paired with the company of great people. Everyone can find a community in cigars.”
Better still, an evening smoking cigars is likely to cost far less than a night at a bar says Fontecchio. “You don’t need to be rich to enjoy a fine cigar,” she adds. “A decent cigar costs less than a beer at a bar and lasts twice as long.”
Fontecchio is so committed to her business that she and several other cigar enthusiasts are sponsoring “Crush and Roll West,” the area’s premier cigar event, on Sept. 14-15 in Paso Robles. There, hundreds of cigar connoisseurs will join wine enthusiasts to sample some of the world’s finest smokes and a rich selection of local wines and spirits.
“This is a fantastic opportunity to explore the cigar world, sample wine and spend a glorious weekend on the Central Coast,” says Fontecchio. “This year’s event will be our best ever, with more free cigars, more opportunities to sample wines and even a chance to try unusual spirits like absinthe.”
With live music, a poker tournament and even a charity auction, Fontecchio says there is something for everyone. “I’ll even be rolling cigars,” she promised.
For more information on Crush and Roll West, visit the event website at http://www.crushandrollwest.com/about.htm or visit Fontecchio’s lounge at 111 N. Halcyon Road, Arroyo Grande, 805-474-1137.