This story was shared by Debra’s husband, Phil, with some input from her daughter Britnee. Many in the Livermore wine family are still shocked to lose such a vibrant, amazing woman at such a young age. While there may be a war on cancer, it just doesn’t feel like we’re winning it. As Phil Long says, “We really do have to figure this out.”
Debra was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma, in 1953, to Judy (deceased) and Hal Meek. She graduated from Will Rogers High School in 1971, and attended Bible school at the Victory Christian Center in Tulsa. Debra did missionary work in Sweden, in 1991, at the Word of Life church in Uppsala when her daughters were 11 and 16. They then moved to California, where Debra participated in establishing a new church with some friends, at first living in Diamond Bar and then in Orange, CA, with daughter Britnee.
Phil shares that Debra was always a true romantic with a great love of the ocean and the beach. “We met at a company I used as a supplier in a previous company I owned. She was the office manager. Love at first sight for me…it took her a bit to see Phil’s heart, but she did and that was it.”
The couple was married in Cambria on Phil’s birthday, June 28, 2000. They rented a house that was previously one of the lighthouse keeper’s homes at Point Piedras Blancs Light House. It had been moved in the early 1960’s, to a plot right off of Moonstone Beach Drive, which fronts the ocean in Cambria. It had the most beautiful garden and became a vacation rental when the three ladies who owned it were not staying there themselves. Phil and Debra stayed there, got married there, and took their vacations in that same house every year on their anniversary.
A job offer moved the couple to Northern California in 2002, and Phil says they began making wine in their garage almost immediately. “A hobby turned into a passion, a passion a business, and this is where we are today,” Phil explains. They did a little custom crush at different wineries in the valley to get themselves started, and did their first crush in their own facility for harvest 2008.
Debra and Phil started the winery because they had been incorporating “Longevity” wines into their online-based wine club which they started after obtaining their distributors license. Phil explains the history behind their wine names.
“The very first vintage of ‘deb-ru-vee’ (Debra’s Cuvee) was actually called ‘Longevity,’ but then we decided to keep that name for our brand. So we had to come up with a new name. It was a Rhone blend, and I view Burgundy bottles to have a more feminine shape, so it was only appropriate to name it after my wife. Then came Phil-osopy, in a masculine bottle, and PressTon in a masculine Bordeaux bottle as well.”
Every visitor to the Longevity tasting room can probably recall the first time they set eyes on the place: it appears as though you’ve walked into a full-sized barn meets saloon meets antique store. The couple loved collecting antiques and turned what could have been a typical boring barrel room into an inviting parlour, where you can feel at home on a settee, at a dining table, or leaning up against one of the bars.
The welcoming atmosphere echoes the personalities behind the brand, and nowhere did Debra’s personality shine more completely than in her wonderful selection of retail items, especially décor, which reflected both her philosophy of life and her impeccable taste. When she received her cancer diagnosis, she even more firmly embraced the idea of living in the moment, finding the good in everything, celebrating the little joys of every day life and letting petty cares fall by the wayside. She pointed to a decorative block she had just gotten in to the tasting room that read, “Love more, worry less.”
Debra’s love of food and wine pairing was evidenced by her competitive approach and the awards to prove her mettle. Phil says she particularly loved their pink pinot grigio: “If we had it, that’s what she drank.” Their 2016 Longevity Pinot Grigio paired with seared pork belly with local stone fruit pico de gallo and green goddess sauce from BackDoor Bistro scored Most Innovative Pairing at the 2017 Taste Our Terroir.
She also loved their pinot blanc, which the couple parlayed into the People’s Choice pairing for Best White in 2016 and for Judges’ Best Pairing at the 2018 Taste Our Terroir competition.
Most of all, she had a love of God and her faith sustained her through every challenge. Debra’s daughter, Britnee, says of her Mom, “She was a prayer warrior who could quote scripture and knew how to pray for people. She was caring and compassionate. She was a good friend to many, a bright light. She had a sense of humor that not everyone understood. She had the ability to love people who were sometimes unlovable and forgive people that sometimes were unforgivable.”
Debra leaves behind her loving husband, Phil, beloved canine companion Presston, daughters Britnee and Ashley, son Philip Long Jr., sisters Donna and Dee, brother Dan and six grandchildren: Calli 14, Cannon 11, Reagan 9, Kinslee 9, Connor 4, and Caden 2.
As the face of Longevity wines, she will be forever missed. Godspeed to a lovely, grace-filled woman who brought joy to all who knew her.
There will be a Celebration of Life & Open House held at the winery on January 31st, 2019, from 1:00 to 5:00pm. Please drop by to celebrate the life of this amazing woman. If you wish, please bring a dish or a bottle of wine to share. Please do not send flowers or gifts, instead please make a contribution in Debra’s name to the Lustgarten Foundation for pancreatic cancer research located in New York.
Their focus is not only on a cure for this particular type of cancer, but they also focus on prevention. We really do need to figure this out. No one should have to suffer from this horrible disease at any age, let alone someone as young and beautiful as Debra.
In addition, Debra’s memorial service will be held on February 1, 2019 at 2:00pm, Verdigris Assembly of God, 25815 S. 4110 Road, Claremore, OK 74019. Please join us to toast this amazing person, and the lifelong impression she has had upon all of us.
For any questions related to the Celebration, please email email@example.com for more information.