The Inn On First Remote Organic Garden…TFL’s got nothing on us!

Okay, so maybe The French Laundry Garden is a bit more spacious and they have incredible chefs creating magnificent food for all 3 restaurants, but we are really proud of our own Napa Garden, compliments of Toni’s backyard with Rick’s assistance (our own Mr. Home Improvement/Contractor/WineMaker/now Gardener), who are graciously permitting us to grow so many things remotely and to come and pick what we need once a week.  From green onions, to tomatoes, peppers, melons, and so much more.

Boy are we happy campers tonight as we pulled away with all these luscious tomatoes!  What shall we do, what shall we do?

Breakfast awaits.Garden Abundance

Former priest, currently Napa chef/innkeeper, now author

NAPA, Calif. — Former priest, now Napa innkeeper and author Jim Gunther announces the nationwide release of his new spiritual book, “Let It Go Deep.” This book was co-authored by the late Dr. Juanita Meller.

Leaving formal ministry Jim Gunther found himself floundering outside of the Catholic Church.  First as a trained chef, then a software quality assurance engineer, and finally as innkeeper and chef in Napa.  Through it all he continued to ask the deeper question about who God is and what was required of him now that he no longer had a formal ministerial role to fulfill.  How does one find faith outside the church community and continue to be of service to God’s people?  With the help of his mentor, Juanita Meller, he was able to find the answers he needed.

This book is a call to remember that those who seek intimacy with God are promised this: “He who seeks shall find; to him who knocks, I will open.” The spiritual journey of those seekers reveals the incredible power that is offered to people as they surrender and become willing to go deeper, thus receiving the fullness of inner healing and intimacy with Christ.

Through baptism, people receive the grace of a hunger for more experiences of God’s love. It is a cry to go deeper — a call to simply surrender to the leading of the Holy Spirit. This results in healing of body, mind and soul — leading to wholeness, which is holiness. “Let It Go Deep” reflects the journey of all those who seek a deeper relationship with God and the power of the Holy Spirit.

Published by Tate Publishing and Enterprises, the book is available through bookstores nationwide, from the publisher at, or by visiting or

Gunther is a director of spiritual practice in Napa, California, assisting individuals to find and to pursue their spiritual path. With a master’s degree in divinity and Scripture, he brings a deep biblical understanding to his work as well as an integrated approach between Christianity and other spiritual practices. Gunther is currently the co-owner of the Inn on First in Napa, California, with his husband and three dogs.

Meller was an active teacher of Scripture and spirituality in her parish. She served as a spiritual renewal conference coordinator, a pilgrimage organizer and leader. After her husband’s death, she took postgraduate education and earned a degree in relational psychology at 68 years old. She was certified as an NACC hospital chaplain at age 60 and served for 10 years. Meller was a certified spiritual director for 25 years. All these experiences were reflected in her writings.

Death reminds us to celebrate in the NOW

I know our blog should be about all the great things that are happening right now, but sometimes we need to stop and acknowledge that there is a hard part of our lives as well.  We had a lot of grief in our lives these past few weeks at The Inn On First. Jim’s friend of 38 years, Teresa Bulone East Dominic; Jim’s spiritual mentor, co-author, and dear friend, Juanita Meller; and today Jamie Cherry’s oldest sister, Mary Beth, who had been actively dying from cancer this past year. These are all people who have helped form and shape who we are in our lives today, and we give thanks to them and the growth they inspired within us.

It’s not that our grief paralyzes us.  As a friend of mine said recently: “It is hard until it isn’t.”  And some days it isn’t hard at all, and those are the days we celebrate these magnificent lives that have impacted us over the years.  Our grief turns to gratitude as we remember them.  Our service to our guests continues to deepen, and our love for our guests and each other continues to grow because of those who have loved us well, especially these individuals who have been important anchors in our lives.  Thanks to all the wonderful guests who have been so supportive of us during this time of surrender.  Our call is clear: celebrate the NOW for tomorrow we may not be here.

Shoe Donations for November and December

The Inn On First is participating in Soles4Souls project this winter.  We encourage both locals and guests to consider dropping off their gently used shoes for donation.  We have a collection bin on the front porch.  Hoping all of you will consider taking a second look at your closet and participating in this collection.
Napa Valley Shoe Drive
We are helping collect shoes for Soles4Souls, Inc. through a valley-wide shoe drive organized by local teens and Humanitas Wines. Donate shoes you no longer need in order to help fight poverty, both in America and in developing countries around the world, through Soles4Souls’ redistribution and micro-enterprise programs. Our goal is to collect 25,000 pairs of shoes by December 31st. We can do this, Napa!
And here’s the Soles4Souls website, for videos and more info:

#1 Inn on Yelp for Napa awarded the #2 slot for Best B&B in America!

Yelp* users have named us the #1 Bed & Breakfast in Napa and the #2 Best Inn in America!

For years we have been working hard to provide great food and great service to our guests.  Yelpers, those who post reviews for, have been generous in their praise for all of our hard work and for that we are ever so grateful.  They have made us #1 for Napa B&B’s for 8 years running and now they have propelled us into the national spotlight by rating us the #2 Best B&B in America!  How cool is that!  Thanks to all who have been part of The Inn On First family and making us a successful lodging property in the Napa Valley.  Read all about it here»


Want to be part of a Napa Travel-log Series?

B & B and Me. Napa Valley: still need more participants for a Travel-log show.  Extending the show through the Fall.

This is NOT a reality show.  Some of you have said you would have applied had you known it was more of a Travel-log series where a production crew will follow couples as they enjoy their stay at this stylish B & B and as they explore the Napa Valley.   We are trying to showcase the inn and the greatness of Napa Valley.  The cameras are not with you all the time.  They meet you at breakfast to capture your thoughts about breakfast.  They will meet you at a winery where you talk about your experience of the wine.  They will meet you at your restaurant for dinner and showcase the food that is prepared.  The show is slated to be witty, informative, creative and fun!

Everyone, of course!  You all have stories to share about yourselves, your relationship, or even why you have chosen Napa Valley as your destination spot for that special occasion.  The production company would love to see diversity of every sort (race, culture, religion, sex, age, et al.).

Simply make a reservation (or maybe you already have one!) at the Inn on First for a midweek stay (holidays excluded) in the Fall/Winter.  Then email the producers a half page of why you should be chosen, send it to

OH NO! TREE. Did someone speak Italian?

Oenotri, pronounced Oh-no-tree, is a great Southern Italian restaurant that is a five minute walk from The Inn On First.  With a focus on handcrafted pastas, homemade salamis and sausages, and world-class Margherita pizza coming out of their oven from Naples, Oenotri has all the makings of a great restaurant.  Salads run from $9 to $15, pastas from $12 to $18, and entrees from $18 to $35.

Last week we were fortunate to visit Oenotri with a good friend, Chad Fielding.  We shared the Margherita pizza with a beautifully charred crust, sweet San Marzano tomatoes, Genovese basil, a drizzle of olive oil, and just a touch of Buffalo Mozzarella.  What I love about this pizza is that cheese is minimal, with a great balance of all the flavors working together to create a perfect bite!  Jamie and I shared the garden salad with a lemony vinaigrette, and I then indulged in the roasted squab!  Perfectly crispy skin and a medium-rare meat with a red wine reduction and freshly sautéed vegetables.

Meat-lover’s note: they do a lovely 4-piece chef’s choice salumi appetizer.  The flavors are fresh and wonderful.

Vegetarians, Vegans, Gluten-free: they love to accommodate dietary needs, so talk to your wait-staff.

Careful what you ask for.

Jim here: I was walking the dogs at Fuller Park, a ten minute walk from The Inn On First, an historic Napa Bed and Breakfast Inn.  A group of young men (in their 30’s) approached dressed with Raiders shirts and wearing Raiders badges to identify them as part of the support staff.

“Cute dogs,” the one man said.  Blond hair, cute, and very hunky.  “Well, thanks,” I said.  “We wanted to know if you would be willing to help us with a video we are making for the Raiders training camp; if you can tell us what you know about the Raiders.”  I laughed.  “Really, I’m a baseball fan.  I follow the Yankees, the Giants, and occasionally the Angels and the A’s.”  “That’s okay,” he replied.  “Would you mind if we film you?”  “Not at all,” I told him.

I asked the boys to wait patiently.  First question: “If you are driving 120 mph, how far will you go?”  “Well, how long am I driving in the car?”  “One hour,” he said.  “Okay, then 120 miles.”  Next question: “If you are in the car for one hour and you are driving 80 mph, how far will you go?”  “80 miles,” I replied.  “Very good.”

Next question: “You walk into a bar and see a really beautiful woman.  What is your pick-up line?”  I smiled.  I moved in closer to hunky blond man and said: “Or maybe I see a really good looking man I want to meet.”  His eyes met mine.  His face went red.  His buddies chuckled behind the scenes.  “Uh, okay.”  “You are rather handsome,” I said.  “Really cute.”  “Thank you,” he said in response.

The interview ended.  I continued walking, laughing the whole time as my interviewer got ribbed by his companions as they walked away.