Before Ugly Betty, There Was Pretty Sally

     Those who receive “Cyber Circle” offers from Vinesse soon will learn about an exceptional blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz from Australia with an unusual name: Pretty Sally.

     The detailed Tasting Note that will accompany that “Cyber Circle” shipment has all the particulars about the wine.

     But there wasn’t enough room to tell the story of the Pretty Sally name — the type of name that just begs for an explanation. There being no space restrictions in Cyberspace, however, we will tell that story here.

     Part of the winery’s land holdings encompass what officially is known as “Big Hill,” but often is referred to by locals as “Pretty Sally’s Hill.” What follows was uncovered from archives in Kilgore, Victoria, Australia. The text has not been edited…


     IN THE AUSTRALIAN tradition of remembering best those who refuse to conform to the strictures of the law, Pretty Sally is remembered for operating an illegal shanty and eating house on the western side of Big Hill. The person in question was not the handsome slender young lady the name evokes, but a formidable woman of 114 kilograms. Other accounts described her as “a very stout woman of two-and-twenty stones” and “as ugly as you would meet on a day’s march.”

     Just when Mrs. Sally Smith commenced her operations is uncertain, but the remains of her establishment were noted by James Maher in his “Tale of a Century” as being beside the old stock route to the west of the summit of the hill.

     Melbourne’s Argus of 10 September 1847 records her untimely end:

     AN ACCIDENT OCCURRED near Beveridge’s Swamp on Wednesday last which, I am informed, is likely to be attended with fatal results. Mrs. Smith, better known as Pretty Sally, was driving a spring cart, one of the wheels of the vehicle coming in contact with a stump caused a capsize when by some unaccountable means Mrs. Smith fell under the vehicle, which, being alone, seriously crushed her before she was released.

     Officially the hill was designated Big Hill, but Pretty Sally became a legend, and the official name forgotten in favor of this woman and her brief sojourn.


     Back to the wine: It’s even better than the story. The Vinesse tasting panel awarded it a composite score of 91 on a 100-point grading scale.

Posted in Wine Buzz
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