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Renaissance Vineyard - Yuba County, California


with 365 acres of vines, Renaissanc's Vineyard is the largest mountain winery in North America.

Located in the rugged countryside of North Yuba County, California, Renaissance Vineyard stands alone in many respects. Firstly, there are no other vineyards in the very small North Yuba appellation. Secondly, with 365 acres of vines, it is the largest mountain winery in North America. And, as if its unusual location and size were not enough, there is another unique aspect to the Renaissance tale—it is owned and operated not by a single family or by a traditional corporation. Rather it was founded by a philosophical group called the Fellowship of Friends. Basically, the Fellowship believes that individuals achieve spiritual potential only through continual self-awareness and discipline, and that art is essential to the pursuit of higher consciousness. In pursuit of that potential, the group undertook an impossible challenge of carving a vineyard out of an unforgiving mountainside on their 1,400 acre property and delving into the art of winemaking.

Two prominent figures, Karl Werner and Grant Ramey, helped turn the Fellowship’s vision into a reality. In the very beginning Ramey had serious doubts that viticulture was even possible at the Renaissance site. It was an understandable concern given the property’s 500-foot changes in elevation, with 40 degree slopes reaching altitudes of 2,300 feet. But during several trips to famous mountain wine regions of Europe, Werner demonstrated to Ramey the achievements of other notable mountain vineyards such as those on the steep mountainsides of the Mosel in Germany.

It took tremendous perseverance and dedication to transform the rocky mountainsides into a world-class vineyard. To begin, the Fellowship members cleared the original oak, pine and dense manzanita by hand. Clearing was followed by ripping and raking with caterpillars, dynamiting and constructing over 100 miles of horizontal terraces with pipelines every 500 feet. Then they drilled holes into the hard ground for trellis posts and rootings, added composting and planted 135,000 vines. Planting was completed in 1983 and the first releases came in 1988. At that time Renaissance focused on just three estate grown varietals: Riesling, Cabernet Sauvignon and Sauvignon Blanc. Under Karl’s experienced hand, their first efforts captured instant acclaim with the 1985 Late Harvest Riesling proclaimed the Finest Riesling in the World, at a prestigious international competition.
The joy of Werner’s early Renaissance success ended abruptly with his death in 1988 and the winemaking torch was passed to his wife Diana. For the next five years with help from Ramey and assistant Gideon Beinstock, Diana continued the success that Karl had set in motion. Development in the vineyard and winery continued as did construction of a restaurant, museum, and beautifully manicured gardens and rolling meadows, making the grounds a showcase for the thousands of guests and members who visit each year.

By the time Gideon Beinstock was officially named winemaker in 1994, the winery was well on the way to international notoriety. Since then, Beinstock has continued to mold and shape Renaissance wines, winning scores of accolades with each successive vintage.
With all the progress and positive changes over the years, there are still some Renaissance traditions that seem as set in stone as their vines. According to Ramey and Beinstock the grapes are still hand picked, even to the point of selecting individual clusters, and the grapes arrive at the winery just minutes after picking. The vineyard is pesticide-free and all the wines are produced with estate grown grapes with yields remaining low to insure the highest quality fruit.
There is perhaps no other vineyard in North America as unique and stunning as Renaissance. The enormity of the project, the undaunted level of commitment and energy brought to the task, let alone the sheer expense to build it is unparalleled. Indeed it is safe to say that no commercially motivated group would have deemed the project feasible. But at Renaissance, money was never an issue. Entirely funded by the Fellowship members, the entire project is paid for and the contributors expect no monetary pay back. It is that rare commitment and focus to achieve that transcends into the quality of Renaissance wines.



Dear Platinum Series Wine Club Members,

Nineteen-ninety four was my first vintage as the winemaker at Renaissance and the 1994 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, my first ‘serious” exploration of Bordeaux style varietal blending, is my pride and joy. I have heard people refer to it as the best wine I have made. I invite you to enjoy it and judge for yourself!
This limited production cuvee is a selection of our very best Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc. To preserve its vibrant fruit in all its purity, we aged the wine for two years in old oak barrels and bottled it unfiltered. The result is a well-balanced wine, elegant and harmonious, with concentrated black-cherry fruit and complex, long flavors. The distinctive North Yuba terroir gives the wine its powerful structure and earthy/minerally/spicy character, comfortably cushioned by unusually soft, ripe tannins.
The 1994 Renaissance Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon will easily age for a couple of decades while already drinking deliciously well. At this stage, I would recommend decanting it 2-3 hours ahead and serving it with a good roast—crown of lamb with rosemary-garlic sauce is my first choice.


Gideon Beinstock
Winemaker

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