It is easy to understand why regions that produce very fine goods such as port wine tend to conceal technological and scientific inputs and praise the uniqueness of the terroir. This paper suggests that, during the last decades of the nineteenth century, viticulture in the Douro region of Portugal was as much a product of soil, local farming traditions, and individual entrepreneurship as it was of modern state science and national politics for agricultural improvement. The unprecedented public projects of building a railroad and fighting phylloxera permanently changed the land of port wine. Moreover, those engineering practices of rationalization, simplification, and standardization that were inscribed on Douro's landscape proved essential for the Portuguese experience of modernization and nation-building.

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