If you’re a wine lover, you know that nothing beats touring a working vineyard. Tasting wines where they’re grown is a delight, especially when the winery is set in beautiful surroundings. For many, however, wine country vacations land far outside of their financial range, especially when you factor in the cost of airfare.
As a wine lover on a budget, you’d probably love to go on a wine-themed vacation, but cost is an issue. But just as you would search out the best case discount on a great merlot, you can find plenty of budget wine getaways that won’t require you to sleep in a tent. Here are five ideas for low-cost wine country vacations that you’ll still be raving about long after you get home:

  • Visit Napa and Sonoma off-season. While wine country vacations to California’s wine regions can cost big money much of the year, visiting during the winter can save you a bundle. While some hotels may be closed during January and February, those that are open offer reduced rates and special packages. And though the vines will be dormant, wineries still offer tours and tastings–free from summertime’s crowds. Airfare to the region is often reduced this time of year. And chilly weather can be lovely on a wine country vacation, as you cozy up to a glass of Cabernet next to an outdoor fire.
  • Take advantage of local wineries. Even if you’re a wine lover, you may not be aware that wineries are tucked into every corner of the United States and Canada, making budget wine getaways easier than ever. After you’ve found wineries to visit, plan a route that will allow you to see all of them at a relaxed pace. Make hotel reservations at convenient locations along the way, or splurge and spend an overnight at one of the wineries themselves.
  • Spend a wine-themed weekend at a hotel or resort. If you haven’t got time to visit several different wineries, go someplace where the wineries can come to you. Many hotels offer wine-themed dinners and weekend packages featuring tastings and lectures hosted by winemakers.