Inaugural chief executive of the industry funded Winemakers' Federation of Australia, Ian Sutton, retires on December 31.

His replacement, Stephen Strachan, has already assumed the position.

Bidding farewell to Sutton, former Federation president and industry leader Brian Croser said it had been the most successful industry organisation ever to operate in Australia.

"Ian Sutton, in my opinion, has been the instigator, development officer and custodian of brand Australia in the global wine theatre for the period of its greatest success," Croser said.