Yuba was among the counties in existence when California joined the United States in 1850, founded on February 18 of that year. Oddly, Yuba City does not reside within the county boundaries. Marysville is its best-known and biggest town, a once-commercial hub during the Gold Rush bordered by both the Yuba and Feather Rivers. The region was once considered a gateway to the historic Mother Lode Country, i.e. the 150-mile-long (241 km-long) gold rush belt stretching through the Sierra Nevada mountains.
Documents record the existence of viticulture in Yuba County as far back as 1855 and evidence of five wineries and 800 acres of wine grapes by 1860. By 1930 there were 1,000 acres (405 hectares) under cultivation. Prohibition destroyed most of the wine and vineyard activity, with many vineyards replaced by orchards of peaches and prunes.
The AVA was established in 1985 by Renaissance Vineyard and Winery, a unique property with a faux Roman amphitheater, palm trees, water buffalo and camels. The winery was founded by a religious group called the Fellowship of Friends and the vineyards, sprawled across steep terraces of decomposed granite, were first planted in 1976 with cuttings from the Callaway Vineyards in Temecula.
The adjacent property and Fellowship of Friends headquarters was called Apollo, but is largely deserted today, with the Fellowship continuing to decline in numbers. Around 2015 the founders shut the winery; 33 acres/13 hectares of vines remain, a mix of Bordeaux and Rhone varieties. At one time Renaissance had 365 acres/148 hectares of vines, the wines made by various members of the Fellowship.
Israeli-born Gideon Beinstock was among the winemakers and is credited with making some of the best Renaissance wines. He and his wife Saron Rice bought land nearby to establish their own place, Clos Saron, in 1999. They continue to make mostly Pinot Noir.
Today Renaissance is tended to by a group of small wineries who help farm it and use the grapes in their own wines. Frenchtown Farms and La Onda are among the wines to look for in addition to Clos Saron. The founders of Frenchtown Farms, Aaron and Cara Mockrish in fact have access to much of Renaissance Vineyards, where they have been growing grapes for their own wines since 2016.