Introduction


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, April 4, 1996

Renaissance Vineyard and Winery featured in Chico News & Review

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


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Chico News & Review
Slowly but surely, Americans are learning to appreciate the finer pleasures in life. Take wine drinking, for example: It’s really only since the ’60s that the practice, in its more educated form, began permeating our culture. Nowadays, however, it’s no surprise to learn that your truck-driving neighbor has a favorite Riesling or Chardonnay. Winemaking’s even come to Butte County, for Pete’s sake! Perhaps, for the sake of your cultural education, it’s time to learn more about these nearby wineries.
Just up Highway 32, beyond Forest Ranch, you’ll find LaRocca Vineyards, a pleasant, family-run winery with a rustic tasting room. Further afield, but in a tremendously attractive setting, the Renaissance Winery offers a more grandiose experience. Here’s a look at these two enologists’ dreams, and a note about another homegrown wine.
It’s a 70-some mile drive through the valley and the lower foothills east of Marysville that brings you to the Renaissance Winery, but take our word for it - the journey is worth it. The vineyards for this specialty winery are extensive, and the view, over a sheltered valley that’s nestled in the Sierra foothills, is divine. With a reservation, you can have a tour of the grounds, which include a well-appointed rose garden, a massive - and still incomplete - winery building, a bright, cheery bistro, small gift shop and sumptuous wine-tasting room. The tasting room and bistro are open five days a week, and dinner is available on Saturday evenings.
Of course, we’re talking wine here, and the Renaissance Winery has plenty of that. It’s the only major label in the “North Yuba” wine region, and the largest mountain vineyard in North America. With a distinct set of flavors, nurtured in the region’s granite-based soil, the wines have become a favorite of international critics and won some prestigious prizes.
Finally, there’s a curious element to the site. Run by a group of spiritual explorers called the Fellowship of Friends, who promote the thinking of philosophers George Gurdjieff and Peter Ouspensky and seek to surround themselves with art and aesthetically pleasing things, the winery is a working monument to that ethic.
“Wine symbolizes our art of living,” Renaissance says in one of its brochures. “Renaissance is a community of friends dedicated to realizing the highest standards of a noble, balanced and joyful culture.”
Certainly, there are many beautiful things to appreciate here: The winery hosts an art collection and a series of musical and performing arts shows, and on the day we visited, a rehearsal for a vocal performance of Mozart was taking place. Visitors are under no obligation to do anything more than enjoy the surroundings.
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Black swan
A black swan spotted at Renaissance Vineyard & Winery.
Photo by Sara Sipes.

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