Why go: With an unpretentious attitude and budget-friendly prices, these vineyards are like the Napa Valley of 30 years ago.
The deal: Set at the foothills of the Andes, Mendoza produces the bulk of Argentina's wines, including the signature Malbec. Wineries such as Bodega Catena Zapata (catenawines.com) - the Robert Mondavi of Argentina - offer free tours, though you must make an appointment in advance. Most hotels will help you hire a driver (about $70 a day).
Where to stay: At the Finca Adalgisa, a hotel and winery (fincaadalgisa.com.ar), rooms start at $100 a night, including breakfast and the use of bicycles.
Getting there: Flying from Chicago to Mendoza costs about $900.
Tip: Grapevine Wine Tours offers deluxe tours, from a day in Mendoza ($147) to nearly two weeks in Chile and Argentina ($5,778). Visit thegrapevine-winetours.com for good information in English, even if tours are not your thing.
As long as you're there:Even though the exchange rate is not as favorable in Chile, think about flying across the Andes to visit the Colchagua Valley, named wine region of the year in 2005 by Wine Enthusiast magazine.
Sign up for tours of the valley's wineries, including award-winning Montes (monteswines.com), for as little as $35 a day through rutadelvino.cl. A round-trip ticket from Mendoza to Santiago on LAN Airlines (lan.com) is $240. Rooms start at $195 a night at the Hotel Santa Cruz (hotelsantacruzplaza.cl).