A hydroponic vineyard can be started from one year old vines purchased in bundles of 25. The vines are  kept in cold storage until spring, and soaked in water for 6 hours.

The roots are measured to about 6 inches, trimmed to stimulate growth, fixed in the stone baskets and inserted into 5-gallon pails filled with oxygenated nutrient solution.

The word "hydroponics" literally means, "water work". It is the art of soilless gardening. Hydroponics is the growing of vegetation in nutrients, and oxygen, without soil, in a controlled fashion that results in high yields. Hydroponic viticulture is the growing of grapes without soil. Grape roots are confined to a reservoir of nutrient solution that feeds the vines exactly what they need when they need it, to produce high yields of quality grapes for wine. Therefore, soil  quality is not a factor. Roots are contained in nutrient reservoirs, which allows the grapes to be grown on any surface, including a patio or terrace.

These 12 vines at Africus Rex are growing with each of their roots suspended in oxygenated nutrient solution.

Hydroponics vineyards can exist in several configurations, depending on space, and personal preference. The ultimate objective is to provide a balance of food and oxygen to the roots. Here, the roots are suspended in 5 gallon pails filled with nutrient rich solution, oxygenated by an air pump.

The lower trunk of the cabernet franc vines are fixed in a basket of rocks for stability while the roots dangle beneath the basket, in the oxygenated nutrient solution. A stopper on each reservoir allows access to check and maintain nutrient pH, water level, and EC (eclectrical conductivity) of nutrients.

One air pump can oxygenate two vines. The pump is sealed in a pail with power supply and an output hose to each vine. All lines and hoses are calked against rain and moisture. The center right-angle elbow and grommet provide air intake for the pump.

What is Hydroponic Viticulture?

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What is hydroponic viticulture?

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Nutrient solutions are changed every 10--14 days. Changing nutrient solution involves simply lifting the vine assembly off the nutrient reservoir, discard the old solution (excellent natural nutrition for yard plants, garden or grass), refill the reservoir with fresh nutrient and replace the vine.

At seasons end, after harvest, the vines are allowed to go dormant with the cool weather. Before temperatures fall below freezing, the entire vineyard can be dismantled and packed away in two containers, while the vines are wrapped and refrigerated over winter at a temperature between 32--40 F.