Until the arrival of a railway in their region, wine producers were almost totally dependent on water-borne means of transport. Without access to the sea or a navigable river or canal, transport was too difficult and expensive for all but the finest and rarest wines. This gave an overwhelming advantage to regions such as bordeaux, which were served by a major port, or champagne, with access to the river system of northern France.
The construction of the railways enabled a number of wines previously unknown outside their region to be exported. In some cases—notably chianti in central Italy and rioja in northern Spain—this enabled high-quality wines to achieve their deserved recognition for the first time. The construction of a railway line between the town of jerez and the coast in the mid 19th century greatly encouraged exports of sherry.