Robert Earl Burton founded The Fellowship of Friends in the San Francisco Bay Area in 1970. Burton modeled his own group after that of Alex Horn, loosely borrowing from the Fourth Way teachings of Gurdjieff and Ouspensky. In recent years, the Fellowship has cast its net more broadly, embracing any spiritual tradition that includes (or can be interpreted to include) the notion of "presence."

The Fellowship of Friends exhibits the hallmarks of a "doomsday religious cult," wherein Burton exercises absolute authority, and demands loyalty and obedience. He warns that his is the only path to consciousness and eternal life. Invoking his gift of prophecy, he has over the years prepared his flock for great calamities (e.g. a depression in 1984, the fall of California in 1998, nuclear holocaust in 2006, and most recently the October 2018 "Fall of California Redux.")

According to Burton, Armageddon still looms in our future and when it finally arrives, non-believers shall perish while, through the direct intervention and guidance from 44 angels (recently expanded to 81 angels, including himself and his divine father, Leonardo da Vinci), Burton and his followers shall be spared, founding a new and more perfect civilization. Read more about the blog.

Presented in a reverse chronology, the Fellowship's history may be navigated via the "Blog Archive" located in the sidebar below.

Sunday, December 31, 1978

Slander pamphlet is distributed


"The Death of Socrates" by Jacques-Louis David

[ed. - (Exact date unknown) The 14-page Slander pamphlet (or "journal") displaying Jacques-Louis David's "Death of Socrates" on the cover was distributed to Fellowship members. It has been suggested this pamphlet was intended to silence criticism and stifle rumors concerning Burton's misconduct.]

Saturday, December 23, 1978

Alex Horn's "Strange School"

[ed. - Robert Earl Burton learned the guru business from Alex Horn, founder of The Everyman Theater and the Theatre of All Possibilities. Brutal beatings aside, much of Horn's "esoteric teaching and practices" would be incorporated into Burton's "Fellowship of Friends", a new path he called "a school of love".]

"Real-Life Drama in S.F. Theater Group" , San Francisco Chronicle, December 23, 1978
A strange San Francisco drama group has just closed its theater and its school at a time when some of its frightened ex-members have complained they were subject to a program of brainwashing and violence combined with the principles of two arcane Russian mystics.

The offbeat group is called the Theatre of All Possibilities, and until it closed - ostensibly for the
holidays - it had staged its shows and operated its after hours self improvement school at 150 Golden Gate Avenue in San Francisco.
 [Read more at]

San Francisco Progress articles on Alex Horn and the Theatre of All Possibilities (formerly The Everyman Theater):
"Theater group, cult or stage?"

What is the Theater of All Possibilities?

Allegations have been made by onetime members of the Theater of All Possibilities which suggest that the theater group has cult characteristics using psychological humiliation and corporal punishment to keep members in line.

According to taped statements from several individuals who have asked that their identities be kept confidential, the theater is really an Ouspensky-Gurdjieff grounded commune where followers are expected to adhere to the dictates of teacher leaders, Alex Horn and his wife, Sharon Gans-Horn.

Since the Horns and the theater attorney have refused requests for a meeting, there is no way of either proving or disproving the following allegations:

• Theater members allegedly are required to pay tuitions of $200 a month to the Horns. Such payments are made in cash with no receipts issued.

• Members are allegedly assigned ticket-selling quotas, and those who fail to meet them are administered corporal punishment, ostensibly to promote their growth and development.

• Teachers allegedly issue directives concerning marriage and child birth and those who do not marry or produce a child within the given time limit are ordered out of the movement.

• Unquestioning loyalty to the teachers and total dependence on their leadership allegedly is fostered by
psychological humiliation and other brainwashing techniques.

It has also been alleged that at least one, and possibly as many as three, commune-type ranches are connected with the Theater of All Possibilities, and that the questionable activities involved in the “growth process” are accelerated at these locations.
[Read more at]

Articles in The San Francisco Progress series:

"Theater group, cult or stage?", The San Francisco Progress, December 22, 1978
"'Theater of All Possibilities' deserves a second look", The San Francisco Progress, January 10, 1979
"Closer Look at the Theater", The San Francisco Progress, January 12, 1979
"Horn's followers at the 'Theater'", The San Francsico Progress, January 14, 1979
"What are the answers to cultism?", The San Francisco Progress, February 25, 1979

[ed. - Curiously, it was during the same era that another theater company emerged, this one on the East Coast. It too professed to be following in the Fourth Way tradition, with similar results. A former member wrote the following. Visit Upper Lobby's blog.]

"Upper Lobby" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, January 3, 2014:
Hi fellow travelers and Happy New Year. Although I have heard of the FoF group and Burton over the years I have never had an interest in contacting anyone. A good friend linked me to your sight and I hope it is alright to comment here.

What fascinates me is the similarity between various faux 4th Way Gurdjieff groups. My own group, well, not mine, but the group I was involved with for almost 15 years existed in the Boston area. We all thought we were very connected with the Gurdjieff Foundation. We had been invited to visit Michel DeSalzmann in Europe on a number of occasions and he visited us. Turned out that by the mid-80’s he had vowed never to have anything to do with us ever again. If we only knew.

Considering that our “leader” was a homosexual predator, abusive and manipulative into most of the family relationships and we had ourselves the perfect 4th Way Group Storm!

I’m curious what charges may have been filed against Burton and on what grounds? Was there anything successful? There is a blog that outlines many of the abuses of our own little Gurdjieff group that has been around for about two years. We were a theatre group that performed the Le Grand David Magic Company.

At any rate, I hope it’s ok to comment here. I don’t want to crash your party but it’s nice to know there are other survivors who are seeking to make sense of all the non-sense. Peace.

Upper Lobby

Monday, December 18, 1978

Dressing up in gowns, cameos and tuxedos

[ed. - Robert Burton has always taken great pleasure in dressing his followers and, really, managing every aspect of their lives.]

[Former member's journal entry, December 18, 1978:]
"During the past week, a large quantity of used tuxedos have been brought to Renaissance where they are being sold at the "Royal Renaissance Formal Wear Shop" [the barn]. I was able to purchase an almost complete tuxedo set  [including shoes, but less bow tie and studs] for about forty dollars."

"xeeena" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, November 21, 2007:
Comrade – ”Sometimes I wonder how many people reading the blog have just flat-out said “no” to Robert Burton. And I wonder what his reaction to that was. Probably not a good reaction, but just curious.”


Funny you should ask. I happen to have another story about that very topic. I believe it was in 1993. I had set up a sewing studio on my property where Nette and myself and a few others worked on theatre costumes and other projects, some for the Fellowship of Friends and some private. Robert started buying ballgowns at consignment shops and gifting them to his favorite women students. He asked Nette to help the women select their gowns and to make any needed alterations. We had a rack of gowns and women were coming over all the time trying them on. I guess Robert decided he really liked buying women’s clothing because he started giving them to all the women who were around. Pretty soon all the racks and hooks in the room were full of gowns. One day we got a call that Robert was going to come over to visit the octave. What was interesting was that it was arranged for about half a dozen women to be there at the same time so that he could be sufficiently thanked and adored while he was there. I really couldn’t bear his presence in my room. I just kept sewing at my sewing machine and barely acknowledged his presence. Shortly after this we got a phone call that Robert had purchased a lot more gowns and they were going to be brought over. I put my foot down and told Nette that there really wasn’t enough room for anymore. She agreed and called and talked to Robert about it. He suggested we move them into another student space and she told him that it should be moved onto Fellowship property. He sent a female student over (no not LT this time) who showed us all the places we could put more gowns. She wanted us to hang them from the ceiling! I told her thanks but no thanks. Robert had the gowns moved to the town hall cloak room and punished Nette (and me too I guess, though I felt I was treated pretty much as a nonentity in all this) by taking the octave away from her and putting someone else in charge. I was pretty much out of the school emotionally by this time and officially left not too long after this.

"brucelevy" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, November 22, 2007:

9 Nuthead

Which reminds me of the time the first mass tuxedos octave began. This was when Via Del Sol it was “the ranch”. RB bought out a tuxedo rental firm. They were all put up at “the barn” and all the salaried students were required to buy one. I remember everyone reluctantly jamming themselves into the room to find parts of tuxs to try on. It was theater of the absurd. Of course they were almost all the same passe styles, some fairly worn. I hated mine and rarely failed to find an excuse to not attend functions purely concocted so RB could stand there and look at the herd for sexual culling. We looked like penguins. That’s when RB started buying shirt studs to bribe students with, along with the cameos. It was the same time salaried students with glasses were directed to get contacts, whether they wanted them or not. I tried mine on once and said fuck it. There wasn’t any area of one’s life at the ranch (or raunch) that was one’s own.

"Ill Never Tell" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, November 23, 2007:

10 brucelevy:

Bruce, with the risk of revealing this poster's true identity, let me go so far as to say that I know how the ‘tuxedo octave’ was conducted. RB did not buy out a tuxedo rental firm. The retired (read: old and unwanted) formal wear from rental firm(s) was/were negotiated for on a consignment basis. Complete outfits were sold for $44, as I remember. What was not claimed/bought was returned to source. The rest, as you state it, was accurate and I agree ‘was theater of the absurd.’

"Was KathleenW" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, July 24, 2007:
I have a very small story.

Did anyone who was around during the Age of the Cameo learn that their cameo appraised at exactly 1/3 the price they paid for it?

I decided to sell mine after I left. After I had it appraised by a reputable jeweler, I spoke with others who had the same experience, and the numbers were the same — the appraised retail value was 1/3 what was paid (to the FoF) for it.

I clearly remember being approached about buying it. “Robert would like to know if you feel ready to have a cameo.”

Gosh, golly, I sure didn’t want to say that I’m not ready for something the teacher thinks I should have.

I had the first one for about a week, then the same inner circle person approached me and said that Robert felt a different one would be more appropriate for me. The second one was nearly twice the cost of the first one.

I don’t remember the exact details about this next part, but there was some convoluted transaction with the exchange. I didn’t just exchange the cameos and pay more money. I think I gave the first one back, paid the entire amount for the second cameo, then received the cost of the first cameo directly from the student it was sold to next.

A receipt was included with the second one that appeared to be from a jeweler in Europe. The receipt said that it was made in the 1700s in England. When I had it appraised they told me it was made in Italy (showed me a mark that indicated this), probably in the 1920′s.

"dick moron" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, July 24, 2007:

#235 Was Kathleen W.[above]

Ah, the cameo era. RB, the patron saint of shopping. Why not a cameo for every lady? Such a thrill to shop for someone else, with their money. This happened so much. Any student who happened to have a little money they were not using, and let RB know about it, can probably contribute a little story about how they were assisted in gradually blowing it on on pricey fashion accessories, fine leatherbound books encrusted with semi-precious stones, ostrich skin Hermes bags, shoes, belts, whips etc.. And, RB would select everything for them. I will never forget observing him slowly coerce a very adult professionally successful student into buying an expensive briefcase that the student did not like or want. Guess who won?

Does anyone remember the details of the time (during the cameo/tuxedo set era) that a member of the entourage neglected to declare some expensive jewelry purchased in Europe and RB and party were submitted to all kinds of searches by U.S. Customs. You can imagine the places they would look for hidden jewelry.

"waskathleenw" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, November 27, 2007:
I have a question related to a story I told awhile back about the era of the cameo. I related that my cameo was appraised at 1/3 of what I paid, and I learned that other students also paid three times the appraised value.

I didn’t include this next part because for me it’s hearsay.

I was told that Robert Burton had an”arrangement” with at least one European jeweler. The arrangement was that the jeweler would write up false receipts for the cameos, and when Robert resold them for three times the value, the profit would be shared with the jeweler(s).

This took place in 1984, and I can’t remember who it was that told me this, but I do remember that it was someone I respected — someone who was already out of the Fellowship of Friends but knew something about the situation.

Has anyone else heard something like this?

"xeeena" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, November 27, 2007:
I have a little cameo story from around 1979 or 80. We went on a group tour to Europe with Robert who was in his cameo period. He had found one in London he liked so he had a female yes person take us (me and my husband) to the jeweler to look at it. I was hoping to find an excuse not to buy it because we really didn’t have the money for it. This cameo was a real monster– it was about the size of a saucer. We left without it and went back to the hotel in a taxi. The student who took us was fuming the whole way back. Maybe she had a cut in the deal but at the time it appeared that she felt she had gone out of her way to show us the cameo and we were quite rude not to buy it. Robert behaved much better. When he asked me about it I told him it was too big for me to wear and he agreed and said he would find someone else to buy it. It was never again suggested that I look at another cameo, much to my relief.

"Wouldnt You Like To Know" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, November 27, 2007:
waskathleenw ~2(6)#223 [above]:

I cannot comment on the validity, or lack thereof, of the false pretenses in the cameo dealings. (It would not surprise me in the slightest, though, as many of the possessions of, and through, the Fellowship of Friends were/are bought and paid for over and over again by various individuals and centers to satisfy the insatiable greed of you-know-who. Usually the price paid is determined by what the buyer could afford more than the value of the item.) However:

Antique and jewelry dealers are notorious for their shady dealings and what you suggest is a frequent strategy. Robert Earl Burton is expert at many of the tricks and does not hesitate to use them whenever and wherever possible. Not having a conscience makes almost anything a possibility.

Also, Robert Earl Burton has made many errors in his dealings, both personal and on behalf of the Fellowship of Friends. Some at very high dollar consequences; like forgeries in the fine arts realm.

Appraisals: You are probably aware that most retailers strive for this type of structure: Retail: $100 has a wholesale of $50 and a cost of $25. So, selling at wholesale is a 100% markup and a 50% profit margin. Selling at retail is 300% markup and a 75% profit margin. This is generally used in antiques, jewelry and art.
Lesser profit margins are accepted but the above is a rule-of-thumb. Bigger profit margins than the above are not unheard of. When it comes to appraisals, what is the appraisal for?: retail, wholesale, cost, insurance purposes, lending purposes, replacement value, etc. If something is irreplaceable and/or one-of-a-kind, just think what that does to the appraised value. Cameos are that sort of thing, or at least people would like to think so, so shady dealings can happen easily.

Caveat Emptor: Let the buyer beware.

"waskathleenw" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, November 27, 2007:
228, Wouldn’t You Like to Know [above],

Thank you for the insights into that world. What you say fits with other things I observed back then — not just my personal jewelry situation.

I remember a set of Wedgwood tea service that was shipped to the Hawaii center along with an invoice. We weren’t asked if we wanted it — we were told it was coming and how much money to send. I’m pretty sure that when the center closed it went to another center who paid for it again. The Rent-A-Wedgwood octave.

227, xeena [above],

When he asked me about it I told him it was too big for me to wear and he agreed and said he would find someone else to buy it.


Interesting choice of words. Not “perhaps there is someone else who would enjoy having it,” but that he would find someone else to buy it.

Friday, December 1, 1978

December 1978 Notes

"Renaissance Vine" newsletter [summarized]
December Concerts
Heiichiro Ohyama, viola
Eudice Shapiro, violin
Telluride String Quartet
Diane Gilfether, soprano
James Schoepflin, clarinet
Lazlo Varga, cello
Nancy Allen, harp and Ransom Wilson, flute
As a habit, the Teacher has suggested members join their real family at Renaissance for all major holidays.

Other Notes

December 18:
During the past week, a large quantity of used tuxedos have been brought to Renaissance where they have been being sold at the "Royal Renaissance Formal Wear Shop" [in the barn]. This, in preparation for the concert marathon that was about to begin.
Robert not dining in the Meissen Room. He apparently is on a diet.

At Renaissance, from December 18th through January 1st, there are daily evening concerts. Residents are encouraged to attend each concert.
December 19:
The hours between 7:00 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. today are designated for "good householder." [Renaissance residents are to take care of personal affairs. A rare break in the work schedule.] 
December 28
Though the arts are divine, they are rivaled and surpassed by human kindness. – Robert

Thursday, November 30, 1978

November 1978 Notes

The Lincoln Lodge in snow, November 1978 (Photo: T. Campion)

"Renaissance Vine" newsletter [summarized]
    October 2: After nearly nine years, the final Bay Area meeting was held

    In October, the wine tanks arrived 
    October 14: Renaissance's first harvest and grape crush 
    Breakfasts being hosted in the Tea Room 
    Send photos to P_tr_ck Tr_cc_lo for inclusion in FOF history 
    Use “yes” rather than “yeah” 
    November Concerts:
    Lazlo Vargas, Eudice Shapiro Telluride String Quartet

    Other Notes:

    November 11:
    Snow at Renaissance today!
    November 12:
    Snow continued into the afternoon today. Cello concert tonight: Lazlo Varga performed Bach's Suite Number 3 for Cello and Partita Number 2 for Violin (BWV 1004) which he just recently adapted for cello. He seemed proud of his accomplishment - and justifiably so. The chaconne is an amazingly complex and beautiful composition.

    "After the concert, I dined in the Meissen Room - Barbara Haven hosted. Arrived home after silver washing, at about 2:30 a.m. and visited with Stella and friends for another two hours." [The famous "Stella's Coffee Shop" ran through the night at "The Epictetus Cottage" while she and Harold resided at Renaissance.]
    November 18:
    In Jonestown Guyana, "The People's Temple" cult leader Jim Jones leads nearly 1,000 followers in a mass murder-suicide. From the Fellowship of Friends perspective, Jones is a "false prophet," unlike Robert Burton. Burton would later remark confidently "Mr. Jones was close to the gates of hell. We would hope we are close to the gates of heaven.”
    November 30:
    In the Meissen Room tonight, Robert was unusually talkative. He reiterated the events that lay ahead of us: he said that the country would "squeak by" in 1983, but that a depression of three and a half years' duration would begin in 1984. He speculated that 1988 might be a good year to buy stocks.

    Tuesday, October 31, 1978

    October 1978 Notes

    New winery dome - September 1978 (Photo: T. Campion)

    The task of our school is to preserve culture in the form of an ark. - The Teacher, Renaissance Journal, October 1978.
     October 2:
    Robert did not teach at the Monday [San Francisco Bay Area] meeting, and we were informed he would no longer teach at these meetings. Further, the meetings would be moved to Renaissance.
    October 8:
    Menahem Pressler [The Beaux Arts Trio pianist] performs at the Renaissance "Swan Building."
    October  9:
    Changes clarified: meetings at Renaissance are for Renaissance (they will not be the "Bay Area meeting moved to Renaissance.")
    October 10:
    The first stainless steel wine tanks arrive and are delivered to the Winery Knoll.
    October 14 -15:
    First harvest of Renaissance grapes (quite a small volume, perhaps the equivalent of a few barrels of wine.)
    October 17:
    After months of non-stop labor, some salaried members are allowed a few days' vacation.
    October 23:
    Later today between thirty and fifty students will be departing with Robert on a European journey.

    Friday, September 1, 1978

    September 1978 Notes

    Town Hall (later, Prytaneion and Apollo Festival Hall) Stage (Photo: James Kline)

    "Renaissance Vine" newsletter [summarized]
    September 22 to 25: Opening concert in the new “Renaissance Book Bindery and Centre for the Performing Arts,” [subsequently known as the Town Hall, Prytaneion, and Apollo Festival Hall] featuring Diane Gilfether, Gene Albin, Ken Cramer, Monroe Kanouse. 
    September 5: Thermaldome inflatable dome structure, for temporary winery facility, is delivered

      Other Notes
      September 1: Learned from Miles that Winemaster Karl Werner "is determined that we will crush our first vintage next year, and has a plan to accomplish it." He also speaks of the completion of the press room at the Blake Cottage and that Max Adjarian, the master bookbinder, will move to Renaissance soon.

      September 8: "The Teacher" has amended the conditions for membership and teaching payments. Now, if one is six weeks or more behind in payments, one is considered no longer in the school.

      Thursday, August 31, 1978

      August 1978 Notes

      "Renaissance Vine" newsletter [summarized]
      Leon Adams, wine expert and author, visited in mid-July [Adams authored The Wines of America, published in 1973.]

      1,145 members

      Other Notes
      August 10:
      Pouring of the winery foundation commenced today.
      August 21:
      The Swan Building is progressing rapidly - a chalk board indicates thirty-four days remaining before the inaugural  concert.
      August 25:
      Pouring of circular winery slab was finished
      August 25:
      The Meissen Room dinner last night celebrated the first anniversary of the Renaissance Journal. The dinner coincided with an annual printer's feast in England called the Wayzgoose Feast. Karl Werner prepared the goose. Robert remarked that the school "would prove itself in 2006 (though it does not need proving"). He said his former teacher [Alex Horn] would die prior to the Fall of California. Just before departing the room he remarked that his former teacher stated that Robert had surpassed him.
      August 28:
      Robert began tonight's meeting with a discussion of relations with "life families," the subject arising after a visit he made to his mother today, the second such visit in six years, he said.

      Tuesday, August 1, 1978

      The Fellowship buys Poseidon fountain from French town

      [ed. - The story I recall from many years ago (and which may not be accurate) was that Fellowship winemaster Karl Werner spotted this fountain in the square of a village in southern France. He offered to buy the fountain on the spot.]

      Fellowship of Friends cult member Samuel Sanders and Poseidon fountain
      Samuel Sanders stands beside a Poseidon fountain the Fellowship hopes to purchase.
      Fellowship of Friends cult donation demand for Poseidon fountain
      Fellowship solicitation for (mandatory) "donation" to purchase Poseidon fountain.

      Saturday, July 1, 1978

      July 1978 Notes

      "Renaissance Vine" newsletter [Summarized]
        July marks the seventh anniversary of Renaissance

        June 19: After four years at Skyline Church, the Bay Area meeting was held at new location, a Greek Orthodox church 
        The future winery site was dedicated 
        Students are to refrain from buying Oriental carpets for two years [apparently, some issue with Roger C.!]

          Other Notes

          July 1:
          Dedication ceremony on the Winery Knoll
          July 4:
          Stella and Harold Wirk move to Renaissance!
          7th Anniversary of Renaissance
          July 7:
          First concrete pouring at winery site
          Construction work proceeds from 7:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m.
          July 17:
          New word exercise instituted: avoid the word "so"
          July 19:
          While clearing for future vineyard, huge brush piles are set ablaze atop Mt. Renaissance.

          Friday, June 30, 1978

          June 1978 Notes

          "Renaissance Vine" [summarized]
          Personal items are to be removed from barn by June 15 (barn to be dismantled)
          Renaissance Vineyard and Winery Corporation established
          Karl Werner is in Europe purchasing equipment for the upcoming harvest
          Three weeks ago, Spring Cleaning at Lincoln Lodge: finish lounge and walkway to traffic circle, re-pour patio, install additional sod, decks refurbished
          In the nursery, 95,000 grapevine cuttings were planted in six days

          Other Notes

          June 1:
          Summer working hours for salaried employees are roughly 7:00 a.m. until 7:00 p.m. (plus additional "volunteered" hours for meal service, dish-washing, etc.)
          A multitude of Fellowship marriages (often two or three per weekend) are now being performed at "The Blake Chapel." [The Blake Cottage] It is reported that the facility is booked into the Fall. What next? ...The rumor is, babies.

          Some express concern over how lightly human relationships seem to be taken in the Fellowship. They form and dissolve in an almost matter-of-fact manner. Even Miles and Helga's marriage appears to have crumbled.
          Robert returned from his travels in Europe.

          Site preparation is underway on the "winery knoll."
          June 5:
          At the Bay Area meeting, Robert called emergency vehicle sirens the "school song" and said Higher Forces' favorite colors are black and blue.
          Again he stated a "safe method" is to "do what the machine does not wish to do."
          June 6?:
          June Elections: Several hundred Fellowship members living in Yuba County were directed by their leaders to register to vote, and further, to vote for Charlie Parker, the leadership's preference for District Supervisor. Parker won the election. [ed. - Directing support to a particular candidate was no doubt a violation of IRS rules for 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organizations.]

          June 19:
          Bay Area Meeting. After three or four years at Skyline Church, this is the first meeting in a new location [Greek Orthodox church?]. The Paris Center is now open and the Munich Center will open in the Fall.
          June 24:
          A fire was ignited by a bulldozer working on the Zinfandel Slope, burning one acre of vines before being extinguished.

          Wednesday, June 14, 1978

          Dr. Karl Werner

          [ed. - Robert Burton had a knack for attracting the "expertise" needed to realize his (ever-changing) vision. In June of 1978, the larger-than-life personality Karl Werner moved to the The Fellowship of Friends compound at Oregon House, California to manage their vineyard and winery. He had come from Callaway Winery in Temecula, California (north of San Diego), where he served as Ely Callaway's founding Winemaster. Previously, Werner served as a consultant to Robert Mondavi Winery in Oakville, California, where he (in his own words) produced the 1970, 1971 and 1972 vintage wines. One of those wines, the 1970 "Unfined, Unfiltered" Cabernet Sauvignon was highly-acclaimed in the California wine industry. At Callaway, he created a wine that would become famous, a late harvest Chenin Blanc they called "Sweet Nancy." But his most dramatic success at Callaway came with a "dry" White Riesling. From Callaway Vineyard and Winery's site:
          On July 9, 1976, Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, and his Royal Highness, The Prince Duke of Edinburgh, toasted the President of the United States at a luncheon at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City. The only wine served at this bicentennial event honoring the Royal couple's visit to this country, was Callaway's estate bottled 1974 White Riesling. Her Majesty, not known to be a wine drinker, requested a second glass! This was the first time in U.S. viticultural history that a dry table wine from Southern California was chosen to be served on the east coast at an international diplomatic event.
          As mentioned below, following Werner's departure in 1978, Callaway mysteriously expunged the memory of Karl Werner from its story. The winery discontinued red wine production and sold much of its remaining inventory of reds to Werner and the Fellowship of Friends at bargain-basement pricing (who in turn sold it to Fellowship members for $24-36 per case). Some of the wines, especially vintages of the Petite Sirah and Zinfandel, were blended and subsequently served at Renaissance as in-house "table wine," (affectionately known as "Ink" and "Son of Ink.") Werner would often tell members the wines would be ready to drink "in twenty years." (Along with Cabernet Sauvignon, Chenin Blanc, Zinfandel and Petite Sirah were among the first varieties planted at Renaissance.)

          Curiously missing from Werner's biographies are his own account of being  a U-boat commander in World War II, and the elegant high-society lifestyle German officers occasionally enjoyed when not at the front. Werner also stated he was a certified Cordon Bleu chef.

          He enjoyed telling the story of hosting a certain Los Angeles area wine critic who had panned Callaway's wines. He set up a blind tasting of red wines for the writer. After the two had shared their observations of the various wines, Karl revealed that, in fact, each glass contained the same Gallo Hearty Burgundy. He dismissed the humiliated reporter with the threat that in the future, were he ever to write anything unflattering about Karl's wines, the results of this tasting would be made public.

          In response to the question of how the Fellowship expected to sell its wines at a premium (a proposed retail price of $30 a bottle at the time,) Karl Werner quoted the popular expression "there’s a sucker born every minute."]

          From Renaissance Vineyard and Winery site:
          The Re-awakening of the Region

          Karl Werner, winemaster at The Fellowship of Friends Renaissance Vineyard and Winery
          Karl Werner
          It was not the original intent of the Fellowship members to create a vineyard and winery the original intent was to provide its membership with a retreat where they could realize their principles of self-development.

          As good fortune would have it, one of Germany's most renowned winemasters expressed interest in the Fellowship's philosophy. His name was Dr. Karl Werner, and his family boasted 17 generations of winemakers. Dr. Werner was the founding winemaster at the Callaway vineyards in Temecula, California when he was introduced to the Fellowship. He came to the North Yuba retreat and immediately was struck by its winemaking possibilities. The land reminded him of his native Germany. He tasted the soil and recognized its unique terroir: the rocky red soil and the mountain climates could produce wine of distinct character, he felt, for the vines would have to struggle in this soil to survive. The Fellowship in turn embraced his vision, as it so poetically expressed their philosophy of life.

          Under Dr. Werner's direction, the members worked long hours to clear the land, carve terraces, and drill 135,000 holes for the vines. Some of the terraces were so steep that the massive D-8 bulldozer toppled. Because of the climate, Dr. Werner decided to install drip irrigation to water the vines. He experimented with different grape varieties and decided to focus on three: Cabernet Sauvignon, Riesling, and Sauvignon Blanc.

          Dr. Werner then turned his attention to the winery facility itself. He envisioned a circular concrete structure three stories high, two of them underground. The top story would house the stainless steel tanks for fermentation. The bottom levels would store the barrels for aging and the bottling room. These levels would take advantage of the coolness of the mountain granite, and gravity could serve as a natural pump, minimizing the stress of more aggressive, modern pumping systems on the wine.

          Work continued on both the vineyard and the winery, and in 1979 the first grapes were harvested. That first harvest took only 20 minutes and produced one barrel of Cabernet Sauvignon. [ed. - This is incorrect. As stated in the "Renaissance Vine," the first harvest took place October 14, 1978. From a production standpoint, the volume was negligible.]

          Dr. Werner believed that Nature arrives at perfection slowly. There was no rush to market. In 1988, Renaissance Vineyard and Winery sold 5000 cases. Sales doubled in 1989 and then again in 1990.

          An important transition

          Karl Werner, winemaster at The Fellowship of Friends Renaissance Vineyard and Winery
          Diana and Karl Werner
          When Dr. Werner's health began to decline in 1984, his wife, Diana, who had a viticultural degree and had worked at his side from the beginning, assumed increasingly more responsibility for daily operations. With Dr. Werner's death in 1988, just a few months before the first cases were sold commercially, Mrs. Werner assumed full responsibility as winemaker.

          The emphasis during these early years was on luscious German-style dessert white and blockbuster red wines with an ability to age between 20 and 50 years. It soon became apparent, however, that the Renaissance terroir (pronounced "terr-whar") was suited more to red wine, and that German winemaking techniques, which is suited more to white wines, did not lend themselves to the type of Cabernet Sauvignon that Renaissance was producing.

          Again, good fortune smiled. In the early 1990s a French-Israeli arrived to guide Renaissance Vineyard and Winery to the next level of world-class winemaking.

          Karl Werner's (founder of Renaissance) legacy to dessert wine lovers one might say that the creation of great Rieslings was in Karl Werner's blood. He was born into one of the great wine making traditions of Germany: the family estate, Schloss Groenstein, [ed. - Schloss Groenesteyn] had been given to his ancestors in 1411 by the son of Charlemagne. Despite Schloss Groensteins' confiscation by the Nazis (his mother was Jewish), Werner remained in German winemaking until 1958, training at Eltville and Geisenheim, serving as winemaker at the famed Schloss Vollrads and Wolf Erben estates, and finally acting as national wine director under Chancellor Conrad Adenauer.

          Beginning in 1959, Werner sought new challenges, from 1959 to 1969 in South Africa, and from 1969 to 1976, consulting to more than 40 top California wineries. From 1976 until his death in 1988, Werner devoted all of his time to building the Renaissance winery in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains. In 1985, Werner produced a late-harvest Johannisberg Riesling that is about as close to German Beerenauslese as anything that has come from California.It is sheer nectar, with an astonishing bouquet of apricots, blossoms, honey and vanilla. On the luscious palate, the fruit-sugar-acid balance is near perfection. Werner was so pleased with the wine that in 1989, he entered it in the "Dessert Wine Olympics" staged by France's prestigious Gault Millau magazine.Every one involved must have been stunned when Werner's 1985 Select Late Harvest Riesling finished in the top ten, with the likes of 1986 [Chateau d'] Yquem and 1986 [Chateau] Coutet Cuvee Madame.

           From The Gold Medal Wine Club:
          If a commitment to the traditional artistry of winemaking fueled the vision of Renaissance, two prominent figures, Karl Werner and Grant Ramey, helped turn the vision into a reality.

          Werner who came from a prominent winemaking family in Germany, took the reins as winemaker.

          But during several trips to famous mountain wine regions of Europe, Werner (who helped rebuild Schloss Vollrads after World War II, and was a consultant for wineries around the world before devoting himself to the Renaissance project), educated Ramey about the achievements of other notable mountain vineyards such as those on the steep mountainsides of the Mosel in Germany. "Karl showed us what could be done-with 'blood, sweat and tear' as he used to chime-on steep land with marginal climates," Ramey recalls.

          For the next five years with help from Ramey and assistant Gideon Beinstock, Diana continued the success that Karl had set in motion.

          Founding winemaker Karl Werner believed the 1987 Cabernet Sauvignon was the best vintage of all the 1980s.

          One of the early driving forces behind the vineyard and winery project was Karl Werner. Karl was a former winemaster at Schloss Vollrads, consultant to Mondavi Winery and founding winemaker at Callaway Winery.

          From an ex-members journal:
          January 16, 1986 -  I visited Callaway Winery in Temecula. It appeared that in the winery's literature, and in their pictorial history displayed in the visitor's center, all traces of "founding winemaster" Karl Werner have been removed. This seemed quite odd, given Werner's essential role.
          [ed. -  The histories mention John Moramarco, who planted and managed the vineyards, and Dwayne Helmuth, the "assistant winemaker" who went on to become winemaker, but fail to acknowledge Karl, whom Dwayne assisted. An example of this revisionist history can be found in the following "History" and "Our Winemaker" articles from Callaway Vineyard & Winery's website.]


          Callaway Vineyard & Winery was founded in 1969, when Ely Callaway and veteran viniculturist John Moramarco planted their first 105 acres of vineyard in Temecula, California. Temecula is 60 miles northeast of San Diego and has a unique microclimate created by the ocean breezes of the Pacific Ocean only 21 air miles away. The growing environment is comparable to the coastal wine producing regions of Central and Northern California. The soils of the valley are made of decomposed granite, and are Phylloxera-free. This allows Callaway to plant vines on their own, native vinifera roots - a rarity in California. All these factors combined results in fruit with true, intense varietal grape flavors.

          Since 1969 we have recognized the link between the land and its natural inhabitants. Our viticultural practices reflect this awareness. We have virtually eliminated the use of pesticides in the vineyards by encouraging predatory birds, such as red-tailed hawks and owls, to nest in the vineyards keeping pest populations minimal. Grasses growing between vines are home to beneficial insects which prey on leaf-damaging hoppers. These grasses are mechanically cut from under the vines, reducing our reliance on chemical herbicides. From the vineyard to the bottle we think you will find Callaway wines among the most carefully nurtured. John Moramarco, who began the establishment of Callaway in 1969 with Ely Callaway, is today the Senior Vice President and General Manager of Callaway Vineyard & Winery.

          Our Winemaker

          "In 1981, a visit to Callaway Vineyard & Winery and its state-of-the-art facilities impressed Dwayne Helmuth, who accepted an offer to join Callaway as Assistant Winemaker, which he did in April of that year.

          "In August of 1983, Dwayne was promoted to Winemaker at Callaway. Since the 1983 vintage, Callaway's taste style has been characterized by fresh, appealing and varietally flavorful wines. Dwayne attributes much of this style to the unique vineyards of Callaway and the great team he has to work with.

          "With the harvest of 1989, Dwayne and his staff brought Callaway back to red wine production for the first time in more than ten years with a Cabernet Sauvignon that has quickly gained popularity across the country for its black cherry-like aromas and soft, enjoyable flavors."

          May 14, 1986 - Tasted the Da Vinci Zinfandel. It was disappointing, marred by volatile acidity. [ed. - vinegar character]

          February 19, 1988 - In a blind tasting of Cabernet Sauvignons, the 1983 Renaissance Cabernet Sauvignon raised serious doubts in my mind whether Karl Werner is still (if ever he was) competent at making red wines. The wine appears to have spent about two years too long in oak. The barrels are too new, the oak too raw.
          February 21, 1988 - Tasted the Renaissance Cabernet again. With all the great winemakers available, many who would jump at the opportunity to produce our wines, it seems a crime to continue our present course [with Werner as winemaker].
          February 22, 1988 – Following up on the wine tasting results, I tried contacting Robert Mondavi today in order to find out what he thought of Karl - and to what degree Karl was involved in producing Mondavi’s 1970, 71 and 72 vintages.

          February 25, 1988 – Received a call from Robert Mondavi this morning. We spoke for about five minutes. He recalled Karl and said that he was brought in because of his expertise with white wines. He said Karl was strong-willed and had definite ideas of how things must be done, which he did not always agree with. He said Karl opposed his idea to leave the reds on the skins for a couple of weeks to gain more extraction – that it would ruin the wine. 
          Since then, Mondavi’s style has changed focus to a lighter, more concentrated wine, as he doesn’t care for “blockbuster” wines. He was amazed that we have yet to market a wine. Being very diplomatic, he suggested that Karl was making his statement with his wines and the only question is whether he can gain the audience he needs.

          [ed. - Here, wine industry icon Andre Tchelistcheff offers his insights regarding the "experiment" at Callaway Vineyard and Winery, and his fellow winemaker Karl Werner.]
          Andre' Tchelistcheff, "Grapes, Wine, and Ecology,"
          an oral history conducted 1979 by Ruth Teiser and Catherine Harroun, Regional Oral History Office, The Bancroft Library, University of California. 1983.


          ...Since then, actually I've been exposed to Ely Callaway twice, involved twice in a direct communication as a consultant. The first time would have been right in the company of Leon Adams and Professor Harold W. Berg, who was then professor in the Department of Viticulture and Enology of the University of California-Davis, and then was even chairman of the department. This tasting was not promoted by Ely Callaway but actually sponsored and promoted by the Bank of America, in the process of further financing of Callaway in the future. In other words, the bank was hesitating to proceed without the expert opinion of the product. With the first production of the Callaway wines, and the first observation after the production, everything was rather promising. You must remember that these were all young wines of 1974 which had not been bottled as yet.

          The second time I was exposed to the Callaway line of wines for tasting was six months later when the white wines were either in the bottle or ready for the bottle. At that time everything really sounded so promising, and I was very pleased with the cultural aspect of the Callaway vineyard, which is a beautiful thing; and I sent a very optimistic report.

          Since then, due to my busy schedule in consulting and the long distance to the Callaway vineyards, I have not done any more consulting for him. However, we are always keeping our visual friendship, and I really admire him for initiative, and marketing ideas and his marketing philosophy and marketing energy.

          RT: Did you indicate that you thought his vineyards were good there at Temecula?

          AT: No question of it. The vineyards are properly selected, the general ecological regime is good, topographical exposure with the climatic positive condition of suction from the Pacific into the interior hot valley, which is really strictly a local micro-climatic phenomenon. A little morning fog covers them, and there is a refreshing breeze every afternoon from the ocean.

          Importing European Viticulture and Enology

          AT: I think everything is there for production of fine quality wines. It's a new trial, and a new region. Therefore, everyone's allowed to have their own ideas; and Karl Werner, graduated from Geisenheim, really tried to apply classical German theories of white winemaking and red winemaking. He tried to introduce German methods of winemaking to the ecological situation such as Callaway property. [ed. - bolds added]
          It coincides with so many things that I've tried to do, beginning in my career in Napa Valley: to freshen up the early wines, to work step-by-step as Europeans do. It's a very interesting thing that actually it coincides now, since we talked together, with the introduction of new constructive energy in Napa Valley, in the so-called wine pact signed between Robert Mondavi and Baron Philippe Rothschild de Mouton.

          In 1979, last season, they started to apply, under the management of winemaker Baron Philippe, exactly similar technology and similar winemaking process as it's done in Bordeaux. So it remains to be seen how long they are going to be able, or what are going to be the results if, step-by-step, they are going to interpret exactly the same technology, same philosophy, to the products of Napa Valley. The idea is to create similar greatness out of products of Napa Valley, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. The big idea is to create a second Mouton-Rothschild in Napa Valley.

          I don't believe that this is the way to follow for the particular reason that there is no reason to judge and compare European products, or any other products with American products. I think it's an imitative technology, rather than a creative technology.

          I believe that every one of us as technologists, artists, should have our own initiative, our own understanding of the problem of art, of winemaking. Oil painting will be quite different, and every artist has a chance to express the intensity of oil paint in an entirely different way.

          But this is interesting. So, coming back to the same problem, Karl Werner tried to do this and had several problems, because what was applicable in Germany with the classical, proper type of classical German red wine, is completely not corresponding to the image of the winemaker, wine merchant and wine consumer of America. [ed. - bolds added]

          RT: Another notable example of, maybe, transplanting technology is Domaine Chandon. Did they try to do that?

          AT: No, I don't think so, no. I think their approach is entirely different. As a matter of fact they're introducing even the Blanc de Noirs with a slight excess .of color, a different direction than in the classical Champagne region. I don't think that their technology's exactly French
          technology. They're adjusting French technology, as I adjusted my French technology, to American facts of living.
          So I really am still considering myself as a French, classically trained winemaker. But cooking with quite different ingredients in American kitchen, rather than the French kitchen with those supplies that I bought at the market of the Boulevard Italiens.
          Again I'm referring to the same thing. I think I mentioned to you, in one of my conversations that I asked a similar question of one of the most outstanding chefs of France, about a year ago or two years ago, Jean Troisgros: "You are presenting the culinary class here, and I wonder what you are doing here in comparison with what you are doing within a similar ideology, or let's say, purpose, in France, in your own restaurant?"
          And he says, "Well, I'm going to tell you. You know, I'm trying to make a dish, and I'm really trying to present the dish with typical French accent, and I'm making a very interesting dish. But the dish is becoming entirely different than in France although I ' m doing everything exactly as I do there. 
          "But the problem is that the raw material's entirely different. And I'm not buying personally. There, between two of us, my brother and me, we are going to the marche in the morning, and we are buying our own stuff.
          "And we smell the produce, we smell the carrots, and we smell the peaches, and the fish, and we select the fish. We say everything is selection, everything starts with the raw material.
          "So, outside the facts of different origin, the fish is of Atlantic but not Pacific, and the asparagus is grown in the Loire Valley instead of the rich soils of Sacramento Valley, there also the absence of me as a selector."
          So this is exactly the same thing.
          RT: Before you continue - In retrospect now, as of today, do you think Callaway has been going in the right direction?

          AT: I think there is a certain improvement; I'm not trying to criticize some products. They have such a personality. But I think they are not corresponding to the times. This is something absurd to you and, you know, I am very unstable as a person. And yes, unstable to the point that I continuously explore tomorrow rather than to stay within today.

          AT: So therefore, even if we've been running this interview with you, let's say five years ago, probably what I am saying today will be entirely different than I said yesterday. Because some formulations, you know that wine formulation I'm making, could be contradiction. How Andre Tchelistcheff prayed in 1940 and built standards of wine, and Andre Tchelistcheff today is criticizing the standards of wine of 1940 by saying that we are going entirely in a wrong direction. Because Andre Tchelistcheff is still living and continuously in the process of keeping his fingers on the pulse of the consumer.

          And we are all going in a rapid process of evolution, in all forms of our activities, and of forms of our living and expressing, changing the basic standards, basic morals, basic traditions to something new so that we are looking at a new society. The beverage, as a part of our joy of living, is changing its own topography.

          So that's what I'm saying: red wines of Callaway should be placed on the American market about twenty years ago and would be appreciated.

          But they are not corresponding to the image of great wines of today, not only here, but also in Europe. Because even European wines, classical chateaux of Medoc, are changing their structure towards the consumer power.

          RT: Which is?

          AT: Which is more elegancy, more lightness, more drinkability. In other words, you look upon the wine as a companion during the meal, and you don't look upon the wine as a librarian, or, let's say, enthusiastic connoisseur who would like to buy this wine and consume the wine within the next twenty or thirty years.

          That's entirely different. There are still librarians. There will always be always librarians; but the average consumer is not a librarian. The average consumer drinks wine simply for pleasure, but I think it's sort of normal. [ed. - bolds added]

          When I went to college, my dear, there was a regulation for every student to have a hard, starched shirt and tie. We did not accept even the idea during the class or during laboratory work, beside the that we'd have a white smock on us, to open our collar and release our tie. And the professor was presenting the lesson, the lecture to the students, while he was in a formal outfit.

          Now, if you put these forms, visible forms out today, it would just be ridiculous to do this, a circus. So everything is changing. And so, if we're having any changes this way, well, then in a very traditional industry such as the wine industry, we still have to sell our traditional beverages to a new consumer. A consumer of new generation, of new school, of new morals, of new habits, and it's a logical reaction to what he's eating and drinking, don't you think so?

          That's one of the reasons that new consumers probably are still all living and enjoying the life. I'm always referring to some of my plans, and I'm referring right now to the statement by Madame de Latour, who became the president of Beaulieu vineyard. She was considered then as a queen of the California wine industry. She was a grand lady, a really, patroness of the wine industry.

          She said to me, "Well, you know, the secret of my life, Andre, is the secret to understand the youth." And strangely, in the few of her last years, she always tried to surround herself with the youth, rather than with people of her own generation. In other words, she kept always her mind completely open and youthful by being with the youth.

          And she was able to understand youth much better than even, very probably, her daughter was able to understand the younger generation.

          You see how strange it is, strictly individual.

          April 7, 1994

          Andre Tchelistcheff - He Helped Build State Wine Industry

          A memorial service will be held Monday for Andre Tchelistcheff, 92, an internationally respected vintner and leader in the California wine industry for more than half a century.

          Mr. Tchelistcheff died Tuesday at Queen of the Valley Hospital in Napa. He had recently undergone surgery at the hospital for the removal of a stomach tumor, according to a hospital official.

          Widely considered the dean of American winemaker, Mr. Tchelistcheff was a mentor to wine industry giants such as Robert Mondavi and Louis Martini.

          He was vice president of Beaulieu Vineyards in Napa for 35 years until his retirement in 1973, four years after sale of Beaulieu to Heublein Inc. He also assembled a fabled library of wine literature.

          Besides Managing Beaulieu, Mr. Tchelistcheff operated a private wine laboratory in St. Helena for 15 years. Later, he continued to share his expertise as a consultant for Beaulieu and dozens of other Napa and Sonoma wineries.

          Mr. Tchelistcheff created the first world-class California cabernets at Beaulieu Vineyards after the end of the Prohibition era, and developed the winery's "private reserve" appellation. There, he also pioneered the cold-fermentation process now used widely in producing white and rose wines. He developed frost-prevention techniques and helped curb vine disease in Napa Valley.

          Among the most influential winemakers in the country, Mr. Tchelistcheff spoke candidly about the mass marketing and commercialism that crept into the industry over the years.

          In 1991, Chronicle writer Sam Whiting wrote of him, "His palate was so refined he could tell by taste whether a wine came from Rutherford dust, Oakville dirt or a furrow in between."

          At that time, Mr. Tchelistcheff commented, "Money is the dust of life. I don't have a wine cellar, I don't have a vineyard. I don't have nothing. I only have my head."

          His continuing preeminence was demonstrated in 1992 when he blended red wine donated by 105 wineries of Napa, into a special barrel or "unity lot."

          A Russian native, Mr. Tchelistcheff served in the anti-Communist White Army during the Russian civil war of 1918-21, and was left for dead on the battlefield after his unit was machine-gunned during a snowstorm. His father held a funeral for him.

          However, he and his family eventually fled to France, where the he studied agronomy before meeting Beaulieu owner Georges de Latour, who recruited him to come to the United States in 1938.

          In 1954, the French government honored him for bringing French quality winemaking to America. In 1990, he was named Wine Man of the Year at the Wine Industry Technical Symposium in Rohnert Park.

          Sunday, June 11, 1978

          The Fellowship of Friends Articles of Incorporation are executed

          [ed. - The Fellowship of Friends Articles of Incorporation are signed by the following Directors: Miles Barth, Don Birrell, Girard Haven, Neal O'Brien, Pamela O'Brien, Linda Rockwood (Kaplan), and Walter Scheer.]

          A copy of the original Articles of Incorporation may be viewed at the Internet Archive.

          See also: The Fellowship of Friends Articles of Incorporation are amended and the Canons of the Fellowship of Friends.

          "Jomo Piñata" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, June 25, 2014:
          The specific purpose [of The Fellowship of Friends] was as a “church” in the original Articles, but they [the articles] were later amended to provide that the purpose was as a “religion.” Some people equate these, but I see the second purpose as much more grandiose than the first.

          Wednesday, May 31, 1978

          May 1978 Notes

          "Renaissance Vine" [summarized]
          The Toronto Center has opened
          Soon centers will open in New Haven, Paris and Munich

          Other Notes

          May 13:
          Begin planting 100,000 cuttings in the vineyard nursery, 3,000 from the Fellowship's own vines.
          May 25:
          Robert in London

          Sunday, April 30, 1978

          April 1978 Notes

          The world-renowned Beaux Arts Trio would become regular guests of the Fellowship.

          "Renaissance Vine" [summarized]
          Exercises ended: speaking on the topics of weight, etc., no hands in pockets, no climbing stairs two steps at time, covering of tongue, wit, pairs(?)

          Spring guidelines for relationships are outlined

          Other Notes

          April 11:
          Spring Concert: Beaux Arts Trio [ed. - I believe it was at the Skyline Church in Oakland.]
          April 12:
          According to the Teacher, twenty years from this date, California is to fall into the sea.
          April 15:
          Approximately 42 workers at Renaissance are taken off salary

          Ground-breaking for winery is postponed.
          April 24:
          At the Bay Area meeting, Robert spoke of the imminence of World War III. We are to begin a new civilization amidst the ruins of the present one, he says.
          April 30 (through May 5):
          In anticipation of local newspaper reporters' visit , the Lincoln Lodge is again transformed. The "Oriental Plywood Room" is converted to a reading room and lounge, the patio is redesigned, lawn expanded, deck and hand-railings refurbished.

          Saturday, April 8, 1978

          The Blake Cottage

          The Blake Cottage (upper left) in 1976. Source: Fifty Years with Angels

          [ed. - The "Blake Cottage," named for poet William Blake, was acquired by the Fellowship in June of 1975 with the purchase of property adjacent to the Fellowship's "Dixon Hill" tract. The house would become Robert Burton's residence, and also accommodate a host of young men who served him. Some would sleep on the carpeted living room floor, others in the three bedrooms. It stood on the land now occupied by The Galleria.]

          "Ames Gilbert" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, September 6, 2011:
          I’ll Never Tell

          this is nit-picking, I know, not to mention inconsequential, but just in case some nutty historian ever uses the blog as a resource—the predecessor to the Galleria/Goethe Academy/Whatever was not a mobile home, it was a regular stick-built house, the so-called “Blake Cottage”. It probably came with the property. The attached garage had been converted to the Press Room when I first saw it in 1978; that was where the Journals were first printed, along with other propaganda, on two, foot-powered Columbia [ed. - Kluge?] letterpresses. From there, one could enter the rest of the house, up some steps, to the kitchen, and from there along a corridor to other rooms.

          This brings back memories . . .

          I once did some work on a fountain and small pool outside, polished Dansk silver on the kitchen table, and ‘babysat’ Burton’s bedroom half–a–dozen times. I would arrive just as he left, and was directed to sit in a specific chair until he returned from dining at the Lodge; at that point he would kiss me on the forehead and tell me to go. I was never given a reason; maybe he thought I’d frighten away ghosts? I took the directions strictly, and didn’t even get up and have a look around. Just tried to remember myself, etc. I remember ornate French furniture, including a writing desk, a crystal chandelier, a Japanese–looking screen, the marble copy of the statue of Apollo Belvedere that later adorned the Town Hall stage for awhile. I think the curtains and bed covers were some heavy beige silk, but I can’t be certain after all these years. I never considered bringing my camera, though I do have 3–D stereo pictures of the outside, as well as of the process of replacing it with the faux–French thingy that is there now.

          "Ill Never Tell" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, September 7, 2011:
          Ames Gilbert [above]:

          Nit-picking is OK with me.

          I stand corrected. I examined some old photos that I had from that era and found the Blake Cottage there. Yes, it was a smallish ‘stick-built house’ painted yellow.

          As the Academy got built, the Blake Cottage was eventually disassembled and moved to another location, in Oregon House/Dobbins, not very far from where Ames used to live, as I may remember.

          Yes, I ‘recall the grasscloth wallpaper.’ Certain elements of the place had the attempt of making it Zen-like, or a tad bit ineptly oriental. Shoes had to be removed before entering so that the gold alchemy would not be tarnished by the red clay-like soils native to the area. It was a sacred relic, after all, it was the residence of ‘The Teacher.’

          But the real thing worth dwelling on is not this issue of what was the Blake Cottage, but, rather, the circumstances surrounding the activities supposedly secretly going on there that the housekeepers, and others, were aware of.

          [ed. - And to illustrate what "Ill Never Tell" is referring to above, I'll include just one (of many) reports from the infamous "Blake Cottage," a letter originally published on Stella Wirk's website.]
          Letter of Discontent #3
          Stella & Harold,

          Don't know if you'll remember me--I was in the FOF from '74 to '84. Lived at Oregon House. Used to come over to your place for late coffee and talk on occasion. I was married to Helen Drake for a few years. The article about the FOF and Robert last, Sunday in the SF Chron., has stirred up many feelings both happy & sad. In 1980 Robert asked me to move in to the Blake cottage. Being the uninformed naive "type" that I am, I was elated to be "selected" to live with Robert.

          Four days after moving in Robert came to my room one night and asked me to come with him to his bedroom. What followed still seems like a dream. He asked me to take my clothes off and lie on his bed. With a growing sense of deepening confusion but still with total trust I complied. When he said he wanted to kiss my penis I felt my world was being torn apart at the seams. I told him I felt very uncomfortable about doing this.

          Remarkably, he did not press the issue and sent me back to my room. He asked me not to talk about what had transpired as other students "might not understand". Another four days later he called me into his bedroom, one afternoon, and said " Goodness, I think it would be best if you moved out of the Blake cottage". I moved out in a state of complete numbness. I was working in the kitchen at the Lincoln Lodge at the time.

          I remember that other students made comments to the effect that I was not able to "take the heat" of being so close to the center of the Teaching. I said nothing. But inside I felt as though I had been raped. My, up 'till then, unquestionable trust in Robert had been stripped away and I remember feeling very lost and alone with my "Terrible Secret". I began to drink. Often quite heavily. In my twisted effort to make some sense of what had happened and to continue with my life at the vineyard I remember having feelings of being 'unworthy' and 'less than'. During all of this I had been courting Helen. We married later that year. And for the first four years of our marriage I said nothing about what had happened.--Its just incredible the depth that denial can go !!

          It wasn't until the shit hit the fan with S. Sander's letter that I finally told Helen. I finally left shortly after that. Life now is clearer and good. I still live in Marin. Work as a R.N. And loosely follow a contemplative/pseudo Buddhist lifestyle. Not unsurprisingly I have trouble trusting anyone that is in a spiritual teacher role and groups of people. But I find I can more and more look at myself and the whole bowl of soup that's "me" and gently--quitely laugh. I have fond memories of you, Harold and your dogs.-------with Affection, wishing you Well--------------Richard Buckley

          ps: just felt I needed to tell the above story again. thanks for listening

          Fellowship of Friends Chateau Juliette, Blake Cottage, Goethe Acedemy,Galleria October 1979
          "Chateau Juliette" (later, Goethe Academy, then Galleria) arises adjacent to the Blake Cottage, October 1979

          Friday, March 31, 1978

          March 1978 Notes

          March 4:
          Robert said the seven Meissen commemorative plates purchased in Europe recently were the finest plates the world has ever seen.
           9,800 Gewurztraminer cuttings are taken from Firestone Vineyards for planting in the vineyard nursery.

          Tuesday, February 28, 1978

          February 1978 Notes

          Typical salary for member employed at Mount Carmel/Renaissance: $120.00 per month, including meals, but excluding housing, healthcare and other expenses. Work schedules can be seven days a week.
          February 27:
          New word exercises are instituted: avoid the use of "well," "up," and "antidisestablishmentarianism." And, by the way, the "wit exercise" is ended.

          From an ex-member's journal:
          February 14, 1979 - First paycheck as a member of the winery corporation [Renaissance Vineyard and Winery Corporation] - over $500 - after taxes and automatic deduction of (mandatory) "donations," $130.

          Tuesday, January 31, 1978

          January 1978 Notes

          "Leonardo Da Vinci Winery" (later known as Renaissance Winery.) Image courtesy of Ames Gilbert.

          January 1:
          Requests are sent to members for $500 advance "loans" for the commencement of winery construction. The above rendering accompanied the solicitation.
          January 21:
          The Houston Center recently contacted the daughter of Rodney Collin, who lives in Houston.

          New Fellowship centers are planned in Toronto, Paris, Amsterdam, Rome and Munich.
          January 31:
          Dallas Center officially closes.
          Three antique printing presses are purchased.