Chris Johnston laid down his hammer to say, “This patio was part of our plan since day one, but we needed to settle into the business and let expansion happen organically. On our first anniversary, we opened the upstairs loft, increasing our gallery space to 35 artists. Building the Middle Ridge Winery Tasting Gallery patio for this year’s anniversary milestone just made sense.

“We expect the new patio will add seating for 17 patrons who prefer to be outdoors, its dog-friendly and we may offer it as a venue for special events,” said co-owner Melody Johnston.

“Synchronicity,” the gallery’s current show, will hang through July 8. “We show 33 to 35 artists per quarterly theme, rehanging the entire gallery at six weeks to refresh the collectors’ experience. It’s a giant exercise to re-hang the gallery twice for each show but we find it helps out artists’ work be seen,” added Melody.

Collecting, aging and bottling grapes from some of California’s finest vineyards, paired with art, is truly a labor of love for the Johnston family. In the gallery, the display of themes or groupings is a little unusual by traditional gallery standards, but a synergy emerges as the art interacts by theme, color or medium, and their clientele seems to appreciate unique pairings.

“The Idyllwild Collection: Wander Lust” will open July 11. Where does your mind wander?

We don’t expect our themes to be taken literally by artists or collectors … it’s widely and freely interpretative,” smiles Melody. Also, the upstairs loft will be dedicated to photography within the same theme.

When questioned regarding the role Middle Ridge plays promoting artists, Melody replied, “We have active marketing programs year-round moving art to collectors on an ongoing basis. As our gallery matures, we’ve been surprised to act as facilitators for visitors from the distant past who remember a piece they now want. There have been numerous times we’ve successfully connected buyer and artist, which pleases all parties; our artist family truly hangs together.”