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The Barefoot Spirit
How Hardship, Hustle and Heart Built a Bestselling Wine
Barefoot Wine Founders Michael Houlihan and Bonnie Harvey, with Rick Kushman

This is the story of a little winery that broke all the rules—and left its footprints all over the industry.
When Michael Houlihan and Bonnie Harvey started Barefoot Wines in their laundry room in 1986, they had no idea what they were doing.


They had no money or experience, but they made up for that with creativity, resourcefulness, guts, and grit. By the time they sold the brand to E&J Gallo in 2005, they’d won a ton of awards and helped transform an entire industry from stuffy and intimidating to fun, casual, and socially aware.

This is a guidebook for anyone in business and a great read for everyone who loves a rags-to-riches story.




The Barefoot Spirit is not a dry business textbook. The lessons are cheerfully woven into a twenty-year story that’s inspiring, amazing, and entertaining. It’s a case study, an idea book, an uncommon peek behind the curtain of the wine business, and a snapshot of the American spirit, West Coast style.

The Barefoot Spirit is packed with many eye-openers, including:

- How Michael and Bonnie used worthy cause marketing to create one of the most recognized brands in the world

- Why they never spent a dime on traditional advertising

- The surprising advantages of being small and broke

- How creating a fun, yet hardworking culture kicks productivity into high gear

- How handling mistakes the right way saves essential business relationships

- Why attitude and determination trumps knowledge and experience

Bonnie Harvey is the co-founder of Barefoot Cellars, along with partner Michael Houlihan. She was vice president for nineteen years. She had a wide variety of duties, doing whatever was necessary to operate the business. While Michael’s role was “big picture visionary,” Bonnie translated his ideas into workable processes and displayed a genius for managing the millions of details that come with a start-up. She proved to possess a rare combination of creativity and business savvy that served Barefoot well. In the early days of the brand, Bonnie was responsible for bottling oversight, supply inventory, and label design—in fact, the famous footprint is actually hers! Bonnie has a passion for helping young entrepreneurs choose the right path. She loves showing others how to avoid painful and costly mistakes and directing them toward profitability. Michael Houlihan is the co-founder of Barefoot Cellars. Though his business card read “Head Stomper,” he officially served as president and CEO for nineteen years.

Learn more at www.BarefootWineFounders.com