Monday, August 19, 2002

This is great. The Associated Press talks to an expert whose credentials are unspecified, and a clueless neighbor; reads from a lawsuit by a disgruntled former devotee that was settled; and the next thing you know a thriving winery is labeled a "cult." To be sure, it's a fine line between off-beat organization and cult and this "fellowship"/winery may fall on the cult side. But who thinks mainstream media are well-equipped to make the distinction? Not me. I read this story looking for some hard evidence that Renaissance Winery and Vineyards was evil, but never found it. Especially appalling was the passage in the story where the writer says of Renaissance, "[t]hey are virtually unknown to their neighbors," and then goes onto quote a local retiree who, with no apparent evidence at all, proclaims, "They are really on another level. It's a cult. They don't make decisions for themselves." How does she know this? We're not told. Weak stuff from AP, and weaker yet for the Chron to pick up the story.

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