TRIBUTES have poured in for Ron Potter, a towering figure in the local and national wine industry, who passed away this week, aged 83.
Mr Potter, who received an OAM in 2006, died peacefully in hospital on Wednesday morning after a short battle with illness.
In a remarkable career that paralleled the rise of the local wine sector, the A&G Industries founder is credited with inventing the Potter Fermenter, which revolutionised wine fermentation techniques in the 1970s.
Laconic and down-to-earth by nature, Mr Potter was intensely driven in business, growing A&G from a four-man, backyard operation to employing nearly 150 people and incorporating A&G Engineering.
His reach even extended to the education realm, helping establish the wine science course at CSU Wagga, a feat recognised by the university with an honorary doctorate and the naming of the Ron Potter Centre for Training and Research.
Mr Potter's son Chris said despite his father's stunning success in business, it was his passion for his family and the outback that defined him most.
"He wasn't an empire builder, his success was more about supporting his family and his employees, who were like an extended family," he said.
"He had a great love of farming - especially horses and cattle - and he loved following the explorers' footprints.
"He tried to find the dead centre of Australia a number of times and once went on an expedition to find the end of the Lachlan River."
Born in Young but spending his formative years in Queensland, Mr Potter came to Griffith in 1952 to take up a role as a viticulturalist with the-then NSW Department of Agriculture.
Two years later, he joined Miranda's as a winemaker and after a decade at the flegdling company, started his own business - A&G Engineering.
He worked at the business until just two weeks ago McWilliam's Wines chairman Doug McWilliam said Mr Potter was a goliath of the industry, a humble businessman whose word was his bond.
"He was nothing short of a wine engineering guru and a real innovator," Mr McWilliam said.
"He was a man of his word; when you did business with him, you didn't need lawyers, you just needed a handshake."
Mr Potter will be farewelled at St Alban's in Griffith on Tuesday at 11am.
He is survived by wife Fran, children Wendy, Chris, Julie and Jenny, their respective partners Kerry, Julie, David and Murray, his 13 grandchildren and one great-grandchild.