Introduction


Presented in reverse chronology, this history stretches from the present back to the Fellowship's 1970 founding, and beyond.
(See "Blog Archive" in the sidebar below.) It draws from many sources, including The Fellowship of Friends - Living Presence Discussion, the Internet Archive, the former Fellowship of Friends wiki project, cult education and awareness sites, news archives, and from the editor's own 13-year experience in the Fellowship.

The portrait that emerges stands in stark contrast to sanitized versions presented on the Fellowship's array of
alluring websites, and on derivative sites created by Burton's now-estranged
disciple, Asaf Braverman.

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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