For those who like to swirl, sniff, and sip their way around the world, a tour of one of the world’s great wine destinations can be a dream vacation. Staying at a winery is a fantastic experience and many vineyard restaurants around the world offer fresh, farm-to-table style dining, prepared by expert chefs in breathtaking locations. While some of these locations can be outrageously expensive, there are wonderful international wine destinations that you can experience on a budget. (See also: 7 No-Fuss U.S. Wine Destinations)
1. Salta, Argentina
While Argentina’s Uco Valley and Luján de Cuyo, both near Mendoza, are world renowned, they can be pricey. Farther north, the wine region around Cafayate in Salta province offers great value for wine lovers.
Among the 10,000 acres dedicated to vineyards, some wineries (bodegas) offer free tours and tastings. But you really don’t need to spend a lot of money on a rental car or private driver to take you out to wineries, because there are plenty right in the town of Cafayate. This means that you can walk from tasting to tasting without having to get behind the wheel. Any trip should also include a visit to a fantastic wine bar in town called Bad Brothers Wine Experience, which has affordable tapas and wines.
If you do choose to head out to some of the nearby vineyards, I recommend visiting Piattelli Vineyards, which is about a five-minute drive from Cafayate town. When I was there in 2017, tours started at 100 Argentine pesos, or about $6.50. Another favorite is Bodega El Esteco, where a tasting was 155 Argentine pesos, or $10 during my visit. This bodega also has a fabulous hotel called Patios de Cafayate, where you can stay in a historic building right on the vineyard — a truly memorable experience for those who love all things wine.
2. The Okanagan Valley, Canada
You may not have considered visiting your neighbor to the north for an excellent glass of wine, but British Columbia’s Okanagan Valley is famous for producing tasty merlot, cabernet sauvignon, pinot noir, pinot gris, and chardonnay. Thanks to the strong U.S. dollar, travel within this region and other parts of Canada is cheaper than it has been in previous years.
Vineyards in the region are set along the breathtaking, 84-mile long Okanagan Lake, and many of the restaurants at the wineries have beautiful views over the water.
The best way to visit the wineries is to get a group of people together and share the cost of a private vehicle. You can rent a 10-passenger stretch limousine for $79 an hour and take it on a self-guided wine tour. You can usually visit three to four wineries in a five-hour half-day tour that would cost $395. If you split the cost among 10 people, your transport would cost less than $40 a person.
But it’s not always easy to get together 10 friends when you’re traveling, so you can also book affordable wine tours starting at $90 per person. Another option is to rent a car in Kelowna, the main town in the region, for around $25 a day, and drive yourself out to the wineries. Just make sure you don’t overdo it on the tastings!
Whether you go in a limo or in a rental car, you can cut costs by visiting wineries that offer low-cost tours and tastings, usually running $2–$7. Often these fees are waived with the purchase of…