Fans 'gutted' to lose local wine

By Alexandra Newlove

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White Diamond wine is set to become  even more coveted.
White Diamond wine is set to become even more coveted.

The extent of the almost cult-like following of Longview Estate's White Diamond wine became clear when news broke that the bottles would soon disappear from local shelves.

Brent King, a spokesman for new owners Australasian Food Corporation (AFC), described the wine as a "star" and said Chinese demand for the candy-sweet style was higher than Longview could meet.

"The flavour is very attractive to the Chinese palate. It is fruity with a strong grape flavour and quite sweet."

The Vuletich family, who established the winery in 1969, had been forced to sell due to illness and a death in the family.

But fans of the tipple have reacted with sadness and disbelief. Disciple Jemma Neilson said a trip to the Longview cellar door had been essential before any family gathering.

"It's not a special occasion without our White Diamond," she told the Advocate.

Ms Neilson was one of the hundreds who said they were "gutted" and "devastated" to hear that Longview had been sold to new owners who planned to export almost all their White Diamond to China.

Another fan, Shani Kiwikiwi, said she had been drinking White Diamond for 11 years. "In my family we refer to White Diamonds as 'Jesus wine'. We would always joke around that when Jesus turned water into wine, it was White Diamond."

Rachel Scott said she had Longview's variety for her wedding.

"When I first tasted White Diamond it took me back to childhood, perched underneath my nana's grapevine," she said.

White Diamond is made from a grape variety known as niagara, a type of table grape that was relatively easy to grow, said winemaker Rod MacIvor of Kerikeri's Marsden Estate.

"There's smaller growers that are doing it," he said.

One such grower was Kerikeri winemaker Holly Christie from Dancing Feet Winery. Her parents established white diamond vines from cuttings gifted to them by Longview's Mario Vuletich about 30 years ago.

- Northern Advocate

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