IdyllwildJust about an hour’s drive form the Temecula Valley lies Idyllwild. Nestled in the pines, it’s a quiet, funky, vibrant, eclectic and artsy community. On October 8th, the Art Alliance of Idyllwild hosted the 14th annual Idyllwild Art Walk & Wine Tasting. More than two dozen wineries from Temecula, San Diego County and other wine producing regions poured their wares as close to 1,000 guests, wine glasses in hand, strolled through the town to soak up abundant sunshine, local art, music and of course wine.

I love coming to Idyllwild, but what made this weekend particularly sweet wasn’t only the art and wine event, but the chance to spend time with good friends Chris and Melody Johnston, owners of Middle Ridge Winery and event sponsors. Home base for me was the rustic Bluebird Cottage Inn, but I probably spent more time at the Johnston household. Chris loves cooking and entertaining. Having chefs Crispin Courtenay and Steven Levesque in the house wasn’t all bad either.

Idyllwild, CaliforniaSaturday morning dawned bright, with cobalt blue skies, towering pines and a gentle breeze. After a hearty breakfast at Chris and Melody’s (deep-fried Tater Tots – are you kidding me???), I went into town and watched as vendors set up their booths. It doesn’t take long to figure out why Idyllwild is considered one of the top 100 arts towns in the country. It seems everywhere you turn there’s an art gallery, or an artist painting on the street or jewelry and artistic glass being crafted. And who can forget Casey Abrams, the Idyllwild singing sensation who gained the nation’s attention of the last season of American Idol?

Smiles were abundant as art and wine lovers went from one end of town to another sipping wine and nibbling on hors d’oeuvres. Phil Baily from Baily Winery, Joe Hart from Hart Winery, Cane Vanderhoof from Miramonte Winery, Fred Renzoni from Robert Renzoni Vineyards and Ed Kruger from Sunshine Mountain Vineyard were all on hand to pour for thirsty patrons.

The Art Walk & Wine Tasting is the final event in the alliance’s annual series of events which run from March through October. Money raised goes to arts education in the Idyllwild community.

Idyllwild art

photo by Todd Montgomery

Idyllwild music

photo by Todd Montgomery

Middle Ridge Winery

Chris Johnston

Miramonte Winery

Cane Vanderhoof

Idyllwild Art Walk & Wine Tasting