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Saturday, April 20, 2013

5 Affordable Wine Getaways

Not all vacations are created equal. I don't get away to go hiking or rock climbing, but I also don't go on shopping trips. I like to see and eat as much as possible, but I know not everyone likes to travel like I do. Maybe you like to go RVing or spend your time diving off different coasts or even put a majority of your budget towards golfing around the world. If you are a wine-lover on a budget looking to just relax and unwind, here are some unique destinations that allow you to incorporate tasting some new wines into your activities.

San Diego – When you think of wine, you might not think of San Diego, but the truth is, the West Coast is packed with vineyards and wineries and San Diego is home to one of the finest. Orfila is a boutique winery close to the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, which means there are plenty of other nearby attractions if you don’t plan to spend your whole trip drinking wine. Just there for wine? Make sure to rent a car, as most of the wineries in the area are a short drive from downtown (think 45 minutes to an hour). Most have picnic grounds as well, so you can save a bit more by bringing your own lunch and snacks.

Photos of Bodegas Andreu Sole, Guanica
This photo of Bodegas Andreu Sole is courtesy of TripAdvisor

Puerto Rico – A fantastic budget destination in itself, Puerto Rico is also a country of delicious wines and spirits. While you may spend a bit on your plane tickets getting there, you will save considerably on your hotel, dining and wine tastings or tours. Puerto Rico only has one winery, but what a winery it is. Bodegas Juan Andreu Sole in Parador Guánica is open on weekends and the wine they produce is unique, just like their culture and food. While you can certainly enjoy wine other than that pressed in the region, you will not want to miss their not-too-sweet, fruity blend Doce Calles (Twelve Streets) and possibly some samples of the artisan liquors created on the island. All this and the bonus of being next to the water on a tropical island. Another plus? You don’t need a passport to visit!

Photos of The Hess Collection Winery & Art Museum, Napa
This photo of The Hess Collection Winery & Art Museum is courtesy of TripAdvisor

Napa Valley – Wine country as you know it, but way more affordable than you believed, especially in the winter. Napa has so many wineries that if you want to visit more than one or two, look into a wine tour on a shuttle bus that will take you to a handful of vineyards and lunch. You’ll splurge some on these tours, but you’ll see the best the valley has to offer and you won’t have to worry about a designated driver. Another great way to see many wineries on a budget is to sign up for daily deal sites like Groupon and Living Social. They often sell certificates for discount wine tours and tastings, especially in the slow season (AKA winter).

Photos of Jiko - The Cooking Place, Orlando
This photo of Jiko - The Cooking Place is courtesy of TripAdvisor

Orlando – Walt Disney World isn’t the only thing worth seeing in Florida. Of course, you can drink wine at Epcot, but you could also engage in some free wine tours and tastings at wineries like Lakeridge. Or try a futuristic experience with tasting machines at The Wine Room. Look to participate in wine tasting days that include wine and nibbles in the rate. Jiko at Disney’s Animal Kingdom lodge offers South African wines with fruit and cheese on Wednesday afternoons and Wednesday evenings at Urban Flats are set aside for wine and appetizers.

Photos of Niagara Vintage Wine Tours, Niagara-on-the-Lake

This photo of Niagara Vintage Wine Tours is courtesy of TripAdvisor

Ontario, Canada – Canada has figured out how to make tremendously good wine in their cool climate. The grapes develop complex flavor as they ripen slowly on the vine, making them perfect complements to food. The wine you taste in the region will be unlike any that you’ve tried elsewhere. All the wine-grape growers of Ontario are committed to sustainable winegrowing, using eco-friendly techniques. The grapes are cultivated using no pesticides or herbicides, while also conserving water and energy.

So, with these destinations in mind, you can choose your favorite, kick off your shoes and enjoy a glass – or many – of some delicious wine you probably had never had the chance to enjoy before. Trying local wines on your travels is a great way to learn about different wines from different parts of the world. See how it’s made, sample the various types of wine and go home relaxed and ready to start your year off right.

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