Explore Black-owned Longevity Wines this month

Phil Long owns Longevity Wines and serves as president of the Association of African American Vintners. Courtesy of Ron Essex
Phil Long owns Longevity Wines and serves as president of the Association of African American Vintners. Courtesy of Ron Essex

Credit: Ron Essex

Credit: Ron Essex

There are more than 11,000 wineries across America, but less than 1% are Black-owned. If you’d like to explore this underrepresented set of winemakers, and the wines they create, begin at the heart of it all with Longevity Wines, which recently expanded nationwide.

Longevity Wines is a love story, from which owner Phil Long continues to draw inspiration. He and his wife, Debra, both were wine lovers. After reading books and apprenticing, they decided to make wine in their garage. That first batch of 2003 Syrah was a far cry from the award-winning wines Phil makes today.

The urban-style winery is located in Livermore Valley, on the eastern edge of the San Francisco Bay area, which has a Mediterranean-like climate. The winery opened in 2008, sourcing grapes from Lodi, Contra Costa County and Livermore.

“Back then, it was more a function of what grapes we could get, than of what grapes we wanted,” Long said.

Longevity Wines uses a resealable Helix cork that easily twists off. Angela Hansberger for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Longevity Wines uses a resealable Helix cork that easily twists off. Angela Hansberger for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Credit: Angela Hansberger

Credit: Angela Hansberger

Debra came up with the name, a play on their surname. The label’s logo, which Long designed in 2009 for his wife, is an intricate and delicate heart shape made of smaller hearts, grapevines and grapes, “to represent who we are,” he said. Long gave Debra a glass heart for Valentine’s Day when they first started dating, and from that moment on she was all about hearts.

“Heart rocks, heart jewelry, heart everything,” he said.

The heart label and the wines behind it symbolize their love story. Debra passed away in January, 2019, from pancreatic cancer, but her dream lives on, and Long continues to honor her, releasing more wines and telling the story of Black wineries.

Long is the president of the Association of African American Vintners, with a mission to promote awareness of Black winemakers and winery owners. He strives not only to promote these businesses, but also to foster a spirit of communication among them.

Longevity’s classic (white label) bottles are capped with an innovative cork that twists off easily by hand. Called the Helix, the joint venture between Owens-Illinois and Amorim Cork Co. is 100% recyclable, renewable and cork taint-free. You can reseal it by twisting it back on.

“I love the convenience and the unique look it adds to my wines,” Long said. It’s a bottle that’s ready to go, without any tools, and also delivers a fun “pop.”

Two of Longevity’s small-batch wines are readily available.

Longevity 2018 chardonnay ($15.99) has a nose of fresh melon and floral blossoms. It’s clean and bright, with flavors of tropical fruit and toasted oak, and is flinty, like wet pebbles. It’s also buttery, with a round mouthfeel from oak-barrel fermentation. Thanks to a 13% inclusion of viognier, it has a long-structured finish.

Longevity 2018 cabernet sauvignon ($15.99) is big in body and quite structured. It begins with oak and cedar aromas, and tastes of dried cherries, herbs, baking spices, cassis and vanilla. Grippy tannins lead to a lengthy finish of cocoa and a leather-filled humidor. Long includes the rare varietal arinarnoa, a grape bred in Bordeaux that is deep in color and similar in taste to cabernet Franc.

Long has a Longevity rosé ready to go nationwide in late spring, and the holiday season hopefully will bring a sparkling wine for celebration.

Find Longevity wines at:

Total Wine & More. 3954 Peachtree Road NE, Atlanta. 404-816-7249, totalwine.com

Tower Beer, Wine, and Spirits. 2161 Piedmont Road NE, Atlanta. 404-881-0902, towerwinespirits.com

Corners Fine Wine and Spirits, 5730 Peachtree Parkway, Peachtree Corners. 470-242-3939, cornersfinewineandspirits.com

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