Terraces Winery

We have heard about this winery for years and finally made our way up valley to experience it for ourselves.  Small, intimate, family-owned, you ride around at the beginning of the tour and view the estate with all of the different areas for growing grapes and other fruit.  Our tour guide was Nate, the assistant winemaker.

He showed us that the vineyard is built upon a patchwork of vineyard lots carved out of rocky, volcanic soil.  Although a beautiful tract of land, the real treat is walking into the tasting room and enjoying their wines.  Best known for Zinfandel, their Cabernet Sauvignon is just as wonderful.  They also serve a Cabernet Franc, Petite Syrah, and Riesling.   This is an appointment only winery, where small groups are given royal treatment.  Wines range from  $30 to $50 per bottle.

As my interest is in food, we were also able to enjoy a view of the Balsamic Vinegar operation, made in the traditional style.  This is not the balsamic you buy for $25 at the store.  This is aged over years, is topped off and back across multiple casks, and the flavor continues to develop.  It is a labor of love as authentic balsamic can take up to 25 years to create (normally runs for about $250 for a few ounces).  The owners wanted to offer their children something as part of their heritage, and this vinegar is something we would all love to receive.  Okay, so I love the wines, but the balsamic vinegar really sent me flying high.  Especially from the Cherry Wood cask.  I’m sorry they won’t be bottling it for the rest of us as this would really give authentic balsamic vinegar a run for its reputation.

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Oenotri: southern Italian cuisine that is still smokin’

Only 4 blocks and a 5-minute walk away from us is a small Italian restaurant called OH-no-TREE (Oenotri).  Southern Italian cuisine that is always presenting new items, great homemade pastas, and delicious sauces to tease your taste buds.  We recently took our friends, Alan and Shawn, to the restaurant.  As always we ordered the Margherita Pizza, certified by the Associazione Vera Pizza Napoletana to be “authentic” (they are required to use specific flour, tomatoes, cheese, and olive oil), and it continues to make me happy.  Little cheese, with a focus on the olive oil and the sauce and crust.  I wanted to try the Plumcot salad with grapefruit and was pleasantly surprised by the flavor combination, as well as the light, cool beginning to the meal.  I followed it up with the roasted Quail with root vegetables, and had to share a bite with everyone at the table because the sauce was just superb.  There was an order of the Uova Purgatorio (Purgatory Egg) that was extremely spicy (yes, your mouth will be in purgatory- as long as you like it “hot”, you’ll love the dish as much as I did) and meant to be, with tomatoes and peppers cooked down to a thick puree with a poached egg on top and served with a side of toast points.  The pastas are always a hit, as they make their own and they are constantly trying out new sauces and combinations with seasonal vegetables.  The rice pudding with olive oil doughnuts for dessert and the chocolate budino finished the meal perfectly.  A note on the wine: ask them.  They have a knowledgeable sommelier who is always picking out great Italian wines for us. Price point runs from $13 pizzas on up to $20 entrees, and $8 desserts.  Reservations required as this is a hip and happening spot in Napa for locals and tourists alike.

Welcome Home- how to be a part of our First Family

A travel writer once asked me what set us apart from every other B&B in Napa.  I hesitated to tell him the truth as I felt awkward and instead gave him a pat answer about the history of the building, its architecture, the whirlpool tubs, the gas fireplaces in the rooms, and breakfast.  What I wanted to say was simply: “Us!”  We set it apart from every other B&B.  Understand that B&B’s are built upon relationships, personal relationships with your guests, and so every inn is a reflection of that relationship between the owners and their guests.  So, really, when you stay at a B&B you are entering into a relationship with the owners and that is what sets each inn apart.

We are no exception.  When you are greeted at the door for the first time we say: “Welcome to our home.”  When you return the second time we state: “Welcome home!”  A stay at The Inn On First means that you are now a part of our First Family, that you belong, and we look forward to your homecoming.  Yes, you can stay elsewhere, but you won’t receive the same Jim and Jamie lovin’ you do here.  Here you will walk away with the special connection to Jim and Jamie from that breakfast conversation, or understand the Jim and Jamie style of being present at the end of your day and talking about all your exploits and listening to a few of our own.  You will have the pleasure of engaging the 3 miniature schnauzers in the yard where Hugo will put the ball in your lap expecting play time, or Oscar will look at you with those sad eyes expecting you to hold him like a baby and rub his belly, or Calvin will bark at you in excitement when he sees you and will expect you to slap your hands in your lap so he can jump up and be petted.

You might see Jim and Jamie with morning “hair” as they wake up and start prepping morning coffee and pastries, or sometimes you might catch them late at night in their pajamas as they fill the cookie plate and the port carafe one last time just before bedtime.  At night you might hear Jim with the dogs for one last stroll through the garden.  You will wake up each morning and wonder what is for breakfast and enjoy listening to Jamie as he tries to remember all the elements of the dish.  As on a couple of occasions at breakfast, you might see Jim pop his head out the kitchen door announcing that breakfast didn’t turn out as planned and it is “scrambled eggs and toast all around”, or that there was an “egg-cident” and he has to redo your eggs.  Or you might hear Jamie in conversation about music and the current iTunes selection he is playing during breakfast, and he’ll want to know what you’re listening to and who you enjoy.  Here you may find that sometimes you will share your secrets, or your hardships, or your struggles, and know that Jim and Jamie really care about who you are as a person and want to know more; and they might even share a few of their own.

And if you don’t want to talk to Jim and Jamie, they also know how to leave you alone and let you be with each other.  It doesn’t mean we’re perfect.  In fact, sometimes you may come when Jim and Jamie are so busy they don’t have time to talk.  With living and working here at the inn 7 days a week it can be hard to be present to every single guest who walks through the door.  Yet you will still see the smiles on the faces of Jim and Jamie, notice how quickly they are moving to make everything perfect for you and everyone else, that you will forgive any oversight of conversation.  All of this is what sets us apart.

When you come to The Inn On First, be prepared for lots of wonderful amenities and features in your room, but mostly be prepared to be welcomed home to a place where you can belong and just be yourself.  We are not perfect, and we often make lots of mistakes.  Gratefully, those who have come to know us have readily accepted our apologies, embraced us with forgiveness, and have overlooked our shortcomings in the light of everything else they have received.

Yes, you could stay elsewhere, but why not come home to The Inn On First and know that you are always welcome to be part of our First Family here in Napa.