Australia's top wines do not make the cut when compared to the world's best, according to industry leader Brian Croser.

"Our reputation as a great wine producing nation depends on what we do at the top but Australia has become known worldwide more for its mass market products. Australia has done an extraordinary good job of producing commodity wine - Jacob's Creek and the like - as well as good wines above that level. But we have not hit the heights of exquisite quality that the best of France, the best of Germany or the best of California produces," Croser told an awards ceremony where one of his Petaluma wines was a major winner.

Croser is among the most influential figures in the Australian wine industry as winemaker, innovator and founder of the wine group now part of Lion Nathan. He said only small quantities of ultra-premium wines were made, most sold domestically, limiting the financial return and discouraging the vineyards investment needed to make the best wine.