There is still another matter connected with this question of climate, namely, the aspect of the vineyard, which should be referred to because many different views are held upon it. But, as in all similar cases where there are such decidedly antagonistic opinions, it will be found that the arguments are not maintained from the same standpoint. So in this case the importance or non-importance of the aspect depends altogether upon the climate, and upon the locality—whether it be level or hilly. On level ground the aspect is not nearly so important. On hilly land it makes a considerable difference, from this circumstance, that in Australia the northern side of a hill is always hotter than that facing the south. In the hot regions, therefore, a hill slope facing towards the south is preferable; while in the cooler districts, since more warmth is required, a situation with a northern aspect is necessary. It is often said that hilly ground is better for the cultivation of the vine than level land. This is certainly true as far as cold localities are concerned, because a warmer aspect can then be chosen, and there will also be more shelter and better drainage.
People as a rule run away with the idea that the soil for the grape must necessarily be of a rich character. Even the farmer, thinking of wheat growing, and the market-gardener, thinking of his turnips, are apt to entertain a similar belief. But the truth is that the vine is a hardy plant and will grow in almost any place that is not water-logged or otherwise unsuitable. In America the definition of a soil adapted for the grape is expressed in the following phrase:—“Land that is suitable for vine-glowing is land that is not suitable for anything else.” This is of course an extravagant way of stating the matter, still it is worth recalling. We may say this much, however, that almost any soil will do for the vine, provided that it does not bake and crack in the summer, nor get wet and boggy in the winter. A simple test is said to be adopted by the vine-growers of the Rhine. A specimen of the soil is put into an earthenware vessel into which boiling water is poured to cover it, after which it is undisturbed for three days. If the water on being tasted gives a mouldy or salty taste, the soil is believed to be unsuitable.
In considering the soil we must pay heed to its physical and its chemical characters. By its physical characters we mean its looseness or stiffness, its depth, and its colour. This looseness is a matter of much importance. It fulfils the great indication required in a soil for grape-growing; that is, a soil which will not remain damp after having been well wet. There is a marked difference between a stiff clayey soil which dries up and cracks in summer, and a loose soil which is always moist a little below the surface.