Idyllwild’s first winery tasting room celebrates grand opening

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This weekend, Friday through Sunday, June 24 to 26, Middle Ridge Winery celebrates the official debut of its Tasting Room at 54301 N. Circle Drive. The doors to the 4,000-square-foot space opened in February with rotating gallery exhibits from artist members of the Art Alliance of Idyllwild.

The eagerly anticipated grand opening realizes the full vision for the space with the new addition of tasting flights, glasses and bottles of Middle Ridge Winery’s award-winning wines.

The weekend will feature live entertainment from local musicians Sandii Castleberry, Joe Baldino, Jac Jacaruso and Tom Bray, along with wine specials and Middle Ridge Winery’s Signature Aroma Table.

Based upon standards developed more than 20 years ago at the University of California, Davis, a school internationally known for its wine education programs, the Aroma Table offers nearly two-dozen unique scents. After a tour of the table, wine lovers are better equipped to identify key aromas and know, for example, what pear smells like in Pinot Grigio, and black cherries in Merlot.

Also, guests can enjoy the gallery’s current art show, “The Idyllwild Collection: Method & Madness,” which features 17 artists, each working in a different medium. The exhibit reveals the inspirations, colors, methods, details and techniques that led to the art, an eclectic collection including 3-D art and sculpture; oil, pastel and watercolor paintings; photography; and jewelry.

Winemaker Chris Johnston and his wife Melody started Middle Ridge Winery in 2008, and as full-time residents of Idyllwild are excited to have found the perfect location for their unique Tasting Gallery. “Our love of this beautiful mountain community and its amazing artists, and Chris’ passion for creating and sharing great wines, were our inspiration to open a space that joins all of these things together,” said Melody.

“The Tasting Gallery is just that — part tasting room and part art gallery, and a gathering place for people to connect with wine, art and friends in a relaxing, rustic and elegant environment.”

Guests visiting the Tasting Gallery during the grand opening weekend can find live musical entertainment during the following times:

• 5-8 p.m. Friday, Sandii Castleberry (singer/songwriter performing 1970s and 1980s light rock)

• 2-5 p.m. Saturday, Joe Baldino (acoustic, easy listening jazz saturated with a Latin feel)

• 7-10 p.m. Saturday, Jac Jacaruso (guitarist and soft-rock recording artist)

• 2-5 p.m. Sunday, Tom Bray (Neil Young recording artist performing smooth jazz, rock, and rhythm and blues)

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