The first vineyards in Europe were established in the first millennium of the era, mainly along rivers or on their often terraced slopes. These were also of great importance for the wine trade in ancient times. The Romans used two main routes for the transport by amphorae. One ran along the Garonne from the south of France in the Languedoc-Roussillon region to Toulouse and on to Bordeaux as far as the Atlantic, the other from Arles on the Mediterranean upstream along the Rhône to Lyon, from there along the tributary Saône and overland to the Moselle to the Rhine and on this to the North Sea. Waters such as rivers, seas and lakes have a positive effect on viticulture in many ways and thus contribute to the so-called wine-growing worthiness (inclination of an area for viticulture).
The climate-regulating effect of large water masses reduces the risk of frost. Good conditions are created by the formation of valleys. This is because the slopes provide good solar radiation, which results in optimum conditions when exposure (direction of sunlight) is favourable. Due to the humidity, rivers and lakes provide ideal climatic conditions for the formation of botrytis and thus of noble sweet wines. Examples are Sauternes (France), areas along the Rhine (Germany) and Lake Neusiedl (Austria). Especially in northern, central and eastern Europe, many important wine-growing areas are located along rivers. The Danube, Dordogne, Douro, Garonne, Gironde, Loire, Main, Moselle (see picture), Rhine and Rhône, as well as their numerous tributaries, are of great importance.
Rivers are the basis for artificial irrigation in low-precipitation areas. Examples are the Australian Riverland area (Murray River), the US states of California (Sacramento River, San Joaquin River) and Washington (Columbia River, Snake River, Yakima River), as well as in South Africa, Argentina and Chile. Close to the oceans, the maritime climate acts as a balancing temperature buffer. The water temperature changes more slowly than the temperature on land due to the large heat capacity. This means that the land near the coast is cooled by the sea in summer and warmed in winter. This has a positive effect in Australia, Chile, South Africa and in the west of the USA. This applies in a similar way to lakes such as Lake Balaton (Lake Balaton, Hungary), Lake Constance (Germany), Three Lakes Country and Lake Zurich (Switzerland), Lake Garda (Italy), and Lake Neusiedl (Austria).