LIMPOPO – Mello (26), who grew up in Mahwelereng and matriculated at Settlers Agricultural High School outside of Bela-Bela, is one of 24 oenology and viticulture graduates to have come through the ranks of the Cape Winemakers Guild Protégé Programme in Somerset-Wes. He schooled at PEPPS Mokopane Primary School and is an only child. Mello’s family and parents still live in Mahwelereng and supports him with everything he do.
Mello’s curiosity about the intricacies of winemaking motivated him to make the journey to the Cape Winelands. After graduating from Elsenburg Agricultural College in Stellenbosch, he enrolled in the Protégé Programme.
This highly regarded programme helps aspirant winemakers and viticulturists unlock their potential through skills development initiatives which are made possible by the support of major sponsors such as Amorim Cork.
Sydney says: “I was never interested in wine making. I mean, Limpopo is not quite the ideal place to do wining. I decided to see what happens when doing the programme and saw it as an opportunity to broaden my horizons. I paid for my first year of study but I was doing so good with my grades that I got a bursary for the next three years after that. I haven’t looked back so since and I love what I do.”
“The Protégé Programme has provided me with a place of learning from the most brilliant minds in the wine industry. Not only do I see it as preparation for becoming a winemaker, but also as practical experience in making important decisions in my future career.” He is currently finishing his final year as part of the programme.
For this aspiring wine maker, travelling to France last year was a once in a lifetime opportunity. “It was my first time abroad and the experience that I gained participating in an international harvest was priceless. After spending time in Burgundy, we traveled to Champagne. Here, surrounded by bubbles, I felt most at home. We visited big champagne houses as well as smaller producers, giving me an insight into the wonderful world of sparkling wine. After graduating from the programme at the end of this year, I would love to specialise in the production of Méthode Cap Classique for its complexity and mystery.”
Given the opportunity to bring his bubbly dreams to life, Sydney crafted his very own MCC last year, as making their own wine is an essential part of the Guild’s Protégé Programme. Special Protégé wine presentation packs, including Sydney’s sparkling wine, will be auctioned later this year at Gala Dinners in Johannesburg and Cape Town and at the Silent Auction that takes place during the annual Nedbank Cape Winemakers Guild Auction in September. The money raised will be ploughed back into the Protégé Programme.