Loss of a wine industry leader

Potter fermenter inventor Ron Potter has died at the age of 83. Potter, who was a graduate of Roseworthy Agricultural College’s class of 1951 (along with Mick Morris, of Morris Wines), established A & G Engineering in Griffith, which manufactures stainless-steel tanks and equipment for wineries.

His invention, the Potter fermenter, meant winery workers no longer had to shovel the skins out of fermenting tanks or vats: they could be emptied by gravity into a bin placed underneath. They could be used as a storage vessel the rest of the year. They were also a closed vessel, which lessened the risk of spoilage, and were fitted with a refrigeration jacket, which was rare at the time.

Potter was also passionate about education and drove the establishment of Australia’s second wine science course, at Riverina College, Wagga – now Charles Sturt University. The college’s winery was named the Ron Potter Centre in his honour. Potter won the 1992 Maurice O’Shea Award for service to the wine industry.

Winemaking consultant Gary Baldwin says the Potter fermenter was a very important labour-saving device, used all over Australia and overseas. “A&G was the major supplier of stainless steel to the wine industry for probably 30 or 40 years,” he said.

Baldwin described Potter as a dinkum Australian, a lean and wiry chap who loved taking road trips to the Outback with his mates. “They would buy a case of a top Penfolds red, such as Bin 389, and decant it into a 20-litre wine-cask bladder, so they could take it with them and have a few glasses of really good wine every night.” A typical engineer’s solution to a problem!

The funeral was held in Griffith on September 25. 


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