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.

Thursday, February 25, 1988

A conversation with Robert Mondavi about Karl Werner

[ed. - After tasting the 1983 Renaissance Cabernet Sauvignon on February 19th, I had serious doubts about Karl Werner's competence as a winemaker, especially for red wines. (After all, look at what happened to Callaway's red wine program that Karl created.) The wine appears to have spent about two years too long in new German oak barrels.

Tasting the wine a second time, I was convinced the Fellowship could do better. With all the great winemakers available – who would jump at the opportunity to produce the Fellowship's wines – it seems criminal to continue the present style.

I called Robert Mondavi Winery in Oakville to ask about Karl's tenure there and learn to what degree he was involved in producing Mondavi’s 1970, 71 and 72 vintages.

Mr. Mondavi returned my call and we spoke briefly. He recalled Karl and said that Karl 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. Karl asserted this would ruin the wine. (It later became common practice industry-wide.)

Since those days, Mondavi’s style has changed focus to a lighter, more concentrated wine, as he doesn’t care for “blockbuster” wines. (I mentioned the Renaissance ’83 Cabernet Sauvignon being  more tannic than a Diamond Creek Cabernet Sauvignon, which surprised him.) He was also amazed that Renaissance has yet to market a wine.

Being very diplomatic, Mr. Mondavi suggested that Karl was making his statement with his wines and the only question is whether he can gain the audience he needs.]