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Our Roots in Idyllwild

Chris Johnston has fond memories of the summers he spent at the Idyllwild Arts Academy where he studied the violin as a teenager. He returned to the small mountain community of Idyllwild frequently in the years that followed and eventually built a home there. The mountains, numerous art galleries, and special events featuring local artists quickly recharged his creative spirit.

During the 1980’s Chris regularly traveled abroad for trade shows to Europe and Japan as well as throughout the United States, and he acquired a fascination with wine along the way. Regular trips to the central and northern California coasts to meet with clients piqued his interest in wine even more. Chris would seek out small wineries where he could talk to the winemaker and learn the finer points of aroma, texture, and various wine styles. His intense curiosity – and wife Melody – led him to classes at the University of California, Davis and Laguna Culinary Arts.

It wasn’t long before Chris began making his own wine in the Innovation Lab at his home in Idyllwild. As plans for the commercial winery and the need for space grew, wine production was set up in nearby Temecula. The Innovation Lab continues in Idyllwild, serving as the winery’s headquarters and site for testing new ideas in winemaking.

Middle Ridge Today

Middle Ridge Winery evolved from Chris and Melody Johnston’s appreciation of creativity and craftsmanship, and from their commitment to bringing people together through the enjoyment of handcrafted, artisan wine. Their philosophy is simple: to have a conversation with everyone who comes in contact with the winery.  This theme is expressed in the winery’s tagline “ ... when the conversation is as important as the wine.”

A successful entrepreneur and data communications expert, Chris follows his winemaking passion by carefully selecting grapes and closely monitoring the wine through the fermentation and ageing processes. Anyone who meets Chris knows that all you have to do is ask him a question about wine and you will get nuggets of information. From a treatise on corks to the shape of wine bottles, Chris shares his love of wine and invites everyone to taste, talk and enjoy.

Co-founder Melody manages the day-to-day business of the winery, from coordinating special events and wine club activities to overseeing the website. Her extensive management and marketing experience in the restaurant and retail industries, and her more recent years in education, are the basis of her commitment to a down-to-earth, personal approach to enjoying and learning about wine.

With their unique entrepreneurial spirit and love of good wine and conversation, Chris and Melody are a team focused on producing the best wines and wine experience for their many customers and friends.

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