James Becker Musical Folk

Top Winemakers

James Becker’s journey in the winemaking realm is a narrative of growth, passion, and a deep connection to the Yarra Valley. His label, Musical Folk wines, reflects a harmonious blend of his experiences, showcasing the essence of the region and his love for Chardonnay. Launched in 2021, the range has expanded to also include a pinot noir and a skin contact pinot gris, ‘Amber Pinot Gris’.

“Some winemakers I regard as influences include Shaun Crinion at Dappled, especially for his Chardonnays, Anthony Fikkers, Dougie at Mise en Place, and Steve Flamsteed,” says Becker

Becker’s dedication to chardonnay is evident. “Chardonnay is my favourite varieties, and one I’m most excited to be producing,” he states, highlighting his commitment to crafting wines that resonate with his personal tastes and the distinctive characteristics of the Yarra Valley.

The Musical Folk began after Becker had been toying with the idea of making his my own wines for a couple of years, but never knew where to start. “In late 2020, I had a dear friend diagnosed with a terminal illness. It was a stark reminder that life is too short and precious to sit on your laurels,” he says. “I was working as a vineyard hand at the time, while helping out in the winery, and I managed to get into the ear of a few winemakers to help me source some chardonnay fruit and produce a wine from the 2021 vintage. It was a real ‘roll ya sleeves up and get stuck in’ vibe, flying by the seat of my pants with plenty of anxiety. I felt I had no more time to waste. By the end of that year, I had bottled and sold all of that wine.”

The genesis of Musical Folk wines is deeply intertwined with Becker’s musical background and his belief in the communal joy of sharing wine and music. “The intent is to create easy drinking wines to share with good friends and music,” he explains, illustrating his desire to encapsulate memorable experiences in every bottle. This sentiment is further echoed in his reflection on the label’s name: “I chose to name the label ‘Musical Folk’, as an ode to having a wine with good friends, playing good music.”

Becker’s winemaking approach is grounded in minimal intervention, emphasizing the natural expression of the grape and the terroir. “The winemaking is focused on minimal intervention, with only native yeasts and bacteria used and a light touch of SO2,” he notes, underscoring his philosophy of letting the vineyard’s character shine through in his wines.

Reflecting on the Yarra Valley wine community’s impact, Becker shares, “I think the people influence me, more so than the wines they produce. I often pop in to say g’day to my growers, and end up chatting for hours.”

There’s a tight-knit nature to the local wine community and it inspires his winemaking ethos. “I’m lucky to be around the local Yarra Valley wine community on a daily basis. I think the people influence me, more so than the wines they produce. I often pop in to say ‘G’day’ to my growers, and end up chatting for hours, before we even have a look in the vineyard! I like to think that joyousness and ease flows into the wines. I find myself in a very collaborative Yarra Valley community, where people are more than happy to help, be it lending a few Nally bins for picking, borrowing trailers for transport, or helping out each other on the bottling line. I’ve had a grower personally deliver a couple tonnes of pinot to the winery they just harvested, because they didn’t want me to have to pay anymore transport costs.. I think I still owe them a case of beer for that one.”

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