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 an ominous, yet unspecified new threat late in 2018.) While non-believers shall perish, through the direct intervention and guidance from 44 angels (including his divine father, Leonardo da Vinci) Burton and his followers will be spared, founding a new, and more perfect civilization.

Many regard Robert Earl Burton a narcissist and sociopath, surrounded by a largely greed- and power-driven inner circle. The following pages offer abundant evidence supporting that conclusion.

This archive draws on official Fellowship publications and websites, news archives, court documents, cult education and awareness forums, the (former) Fellowship Wikipedia page, the long-running Fellowship of Friends - Living Presence Discussion, the Internet Archive, the (former) Fellowship of Friends wiki project, and the editor's own 13-year experience in the Fellowship.

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

Thursday, September 1, 1994

Renaissance Vineyard and Winery featured in Sunset Magazine

[ed. - This is an Internet Archive capture of the Fellowship of Friends webpage.]

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Sunset Magazine 1994
Renaissance winery As you drive north on State Highway 99 through the Sacramento Valley, rice paddies give way to farms, which in turn segue into chaparral and then the foothills of the Sierra Nevada: a region of scrub oak, pine, manzanita, redwood, and not much else. As you twist east from Marysville along State 20, civilization intrudes only in the form of the blink-and-you’ll-miss-it town of Oregon House and, a few minutes later, the incongruous clearing that marks Renaissance Vineyard & Winery.
Renaissance is the only winery in Yuba County, and the only one anywhere in which the owners, a philosophical society known as the Fellowship of Friends, invested $16 million with absolutely no need to see an immediate return. The group’s 1,900 members, most of them wealthy devotees of Russian thinkers P. D. Ouspensky and George Gurdjieff, tithe 10 percent of their annual incomes to the organization and donate labor as well. The first grapes were planted in 1976, and after 12 years a product was finally marketed. The result? Awards poured in from around the globe.
The most prestigious awards were bestowed upon Renaissance’s 1985 Special Select Late Harvest Riesling - a devastatingly good dessert nectar that Gault Millau, one of Europe’s snootier wine journals, ranked among the world’s top 10 dessert wines.
Apart from imperceptible things like the various microclimates on the 1,700-acre property, you can get some intimation of how this came about by touring the facilities. The first thing you’ll notice are the vineyards, which spiral uphill on hand-tended terraces that were carved out of granite. The winery itself is a circular concrete structure three stories tall, two of them underground. Gleaming stainless steel fermentation tanks at the uppermost level feed 2,800 handmade oak barrels below and a bottling facility below that.
Other fruits of the fellowship’s labor include a Museum of Classical Chinese Furniture, which houses the largest collection of Ming Dynasty furniture outside mainland China; a 250-seat theater, where a member-run symphony and choir perform; and a restaurant. All are open to the public.
Wines are available for sale at the tasting room for $8 to $20 a bottle. The 1985 Special Select Late Harvest Riesling sells for $15. (Prices are expected to go up slightly on September 1.)
The winery is at 12585 Rice’s Crossing Road in Oregon House, a 90-minute drive from Sacramento. Free tastings and tours are at 10:30 Wednesdays through Sundays, by appointment only, and can be arranged by calling (800) 655-3277. Lunch and dinner reservations can be made by calling (916) 692-2425.
David M. Roth

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RENAISSANCE VINEYARD & WINERY quietly produces one of the world’s top dessert wines from terraced slopes in the town of Oregon House.

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