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.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

The Fellowship scores in Manhattan

[ed. - Lest readers feel too sorry for The Fellowship of Friends owing to the harsh treatment it recently received at the hands of Yuba County Supervisors, below The Fellowship boasts in a memo of placing its wine in some of Manhattan's finest establishments.

Let's look at a sampling of wines from The Fellowship's Renaissance Vineyard and Winery now available in Manhattan:

From Morrell & Company, a retail wine seller:
Renaissance Cabernet Sauvignon Vin de Terroir Sierra Foothills 1999 750ml - $95.00/750ml
Renaissance Cabernet Sauvignon Vin de Terroir Sierra Foothills 1997 750ml - $100.00/750ml
Renaissance Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve Sierra Foothills 1984 750ml - $110.00/750ml
How many Yuba County residents can afford such luxuries?]

"J.D." posted on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, March 22, 2014
More news from the FOF media channel.
Dear Friends,

We want to share with you that we are working with a new distributor in New York who placed a very large order with us at the first of this year. So far, they have placed our wines in 12 top-rated restaurants and 5 wine shops in the New York City area. A list of the restaurants and wine shops is attached and includes website links and addresses.

RESTAURANTS:

AUREOLE  Aureole New York, One Bryant Park, 135 West 42nd St., NY, NY 10036
BARBOUNIA  250 Park Ave South, NY, NY 10010.
BENOIT BISTRO  60 W 55th St, New York, NY 10019
COLICCHIO & SONS  85 10th Ave, New York, NY 10011
DEL POSTO  85 10th Ave, NY, NY 10011
ELEVEN MADISON PARK  11 Madison Ave, New York, NY 10010
MARSEILLE  630 9TH AVENUE NEW YORK, NY
NOMAD HOTEL  1170 Broadway & 28th St, NY, NY., 10001
PEARL & ASH  220 Bowery, NY, NY 10012
PORTS CAFÉ  4432 West Lake Road, Geneva
RESTAURANT DANIEL  60 E 65th St, New York, NY 10065 – UPPER EAST SIDE — (Few New York chefs enjoy the kind of fame Daniel Boulud has earned over the past 32 years.)
THE LAMBS RESTAURANT  132 West 44th Street, NY, NY, 10036

WINE SHOPS:

24 HUBERT  “Our highlights include the Rising Stars of California winemaking, …24 Hubert Street, NY, NY 10013
BLUE STREAK WINES & SPIRITS  4720 Center Blvd, New York, NY 11101
CRUSH WINE CO.  153 E 57th St, NY, NY 10022, b/t Lexington Ave & 3rd Ave in Midtown East
MORRELL & COMPANY  One Rockefeller Plaza, NY, NY, 10020
TRIPHAMMER LIQUOR  2255 N Triphammer Rd, Ithaca, NY 14850

If you are living in New York City, visiting, or just passing through, we thought you might enjoy dining at one or more of these restaurants and being able to say, with panache,

“I understand you carry Renaissance wines. I’ll have a glass with my meal!”

Additionally, it is now possible to recommend our wines to your colleagues who could also visit the listed wine shops to purchase bottles or cases.

This large order was made possible because of the efforts that so many have made over the years to participate in and follow Robert’s vision ~ from building the vineyard and the winery ~ to harvest ~ to bottling ~ to selling and to buying our own wine.

Thank you for these efforts!

Your friends at Renaissance Vineyard & Winery
So, for those lucky ones who are in the New York City area, you can go to those top rated restaurants and tell the management, with panache: “I understand you carry Renaissance wines… let me tell you where these wines really come from and to whom they are affiliated with.”

Robert’s [Robert Burton's] vision:

from building the vineyard and the winery with blood, sweat, tears and money from the students ~ to harvest through efforts and time donated by the same students ~ to bottling by underpaid workforce ~ to selling and… buying our own wine by the same aforementioned suckers, just to add insult to injury.

[ed. - Here's a review from a reporter for the Chico News & Review exploring the Sierra Wine Trail in April. Note the perception that the "independently owned" Apollo Olive Oil happened to be on-site for tasting. It makes you wonder if Apollo intentionally tries to distance itself from Renaissance and the Fellowship. Unfortunately, Manhattan wine buyers are much less likely to make the trip to Oregon House for a first-hand look at the cult behind the wine.]

"...we made our way to Oregon House, in Yuba County. That’s where our adventure got weird."
There was no mistaking where to turn to enter Renaissance Vineyard and Winery when we saw the gold statues atop white pillars at the main entrance. We stopped at the guard shack and were handed a detailed map to the tasting room, in a terracotta building atop the hill. We drove up the palm-tree-lined boulevard and through two roundabouts, each studded with another pillar and statue. Strategically parked cars barred us from going off-route. Along the way, we saw goats, yaks, French donkeys and camels. (After all, does anything say “Renaissance” quite like camels and gilded statues of David?)

At check-in, we were told that the property is owned by a nonprofit religious organization (the Fellowship of Friends) and that the winery is a for-profit benefiting FoF. The wines were decent, but the olive oils, by independently owned Apollo Olive Oil, also on site for tasting, were de-lish. We chatted up the Italian owner of Apollo and went home with a bottle of balsamic that was otherworldly.

A later Google search revealed our suspicions that Renaissance felt like a cult were well-founded. The Fellowship of Friends’ website explains that the group was started by spiritual teacher Robert Burton in 1970, and the 1,200-acre Oregon House property is the group’s home base. FoF’s goal is “awakening” and “being present” and further Web searches led to numerous references to it as a cult complete with sex scandals and end-of-days predictions.

No one tried to indoctrinate us during our visit. My inquisitive side enjoyed seeing the property, but I couldn’t bring myself to buy any Renaissance wines. It was so strikingly different from meeting the families at places like Hickman or Spencer Shirey. And I had to ask myself: Do I want to support a mysterious religious group, or a local family? Without going out and seeing for myself, I might never have known the difference.

"Tim Campion" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, May 3, 2014:
The wine world has paid little attention to the Fellowship of Friends and generally judges the Fellowship’s Renaissance Vineyard and Winery product on its merits.

Similar to the Appeal-Democrat’s recent article, this reporter scratches the surface, comes up with a catchy title, yet clearly fails to do any substantive research. And again, the real story is overlooked.

Putting the “Cult” in Cabernet

[ed. - Contrary to Fellowship of Friends members' characterization of "life people" as "sleeping machines," those life people can be pretty perceptive, as demonstrated in the following article.]
Financial support: Visiting the farm puts perspective on where our money goes

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