A wine that was selling for $30 a bottle at the start of the year is now going for almost $600.

Longview Estate's White Diamond was a wine synonymous with a Northland girls' night out.

Now the super-sweet variety is being lapped up by the Chinese, following the March sale of the Whangarei vineyard to a group of New Zealand and Chinese investors.

Virtually none was being sold locally, but the wine was retailing on Longview's website for $598 a bottle, a reflection of the international price, owners said.


Australasian Food Corporation (AFC), an NZX-listed company bought a 51 per cent share in the business on March 1. The remaining 49 per cent is owned by two Chinese investors.

AFC's Brent King said the company had since found "locals do not want to pay the international price".

The wine appealed to the Chinese palate as it was fruity and while it was disappointing it was no longer being drunk locally, the directors had a responsibility to shareholders to sell the wine for the best price possible, he said.

Demand in China was greater than the new owners could supply.

"We are certainly looking very aggressively at expanding production," Mr King said. "It's hard on the current site because the grape is very sensitive to the weather, so we can't just blitz the whole site with White Diamond."

The Vuletich family, still employed by the new owners, established the winery in 1969. The vineyard had been on and off the market for more than a decade.

Mr King said the Vuletich family had done a "fantastic" job establishing the winery.

"You've got one migrant family from the Eastern Mediterranean (Croatia), who build up their business for many years, then another set of migrants comes along and buys it," Mr King said.

He said there was arguably a time in New Zealand history where Croatian migrants did not feel particularly welcome in New Zealand.

"The Chinese are maybe now going through the same thing but [this] goes to show that everyone brings value," Mr King said.

Auckland-based wine critic Vic Williams was very surprised at the price, but said "well, good on them if they can do it".

White Diamond was another name for the Niagara grape variety - a type of sweet American table grape often used in jams and jellies, he said.

"There is a burgeoning wine aficionado class in China... and I can imagine they would think it was delicious," he said.