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The Barefoot Spirit: How Hardship, Hustle, and Heart Built America's #1 Wine Brand
     

The Barefoot Spirit: How Hardship, Hustle, and Heart Built America's #1 Wine Brand

5.0 3
by Bonnie Harvey, Michael Houlihan
 

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It is hard to believe that such an iconic brand as Barefoot Wines began as a start-up in a laundry room of a rented farmhouse in the Sonoma County hills. Even more surprising is that the people who started it were just an average business couple, Michael Houlihan and Bonnie Harvey, with no money and no real knowledge about the wine industry.-The part that isn't a

Overview

It is hard to believe that such an iconic brand as Barefoot Wines began as a start-up in a laundry room of a rented farmhouse in the Sonoma County hills. Even more surprising is that the people who started it were just an average business couple, Michael Houlihan and Bonnie Harvey, with no money and no real knowledge about the wine industry.-The part that isn't a surprise is that, because of their lack of experience, and because the wine business is one massively complicated industry, they ran into difficulties and setbacks that regularly put the brand near death in the first two decades. What kept it going was an unshakable belief in Barefoot's potential, Michael's and Bonnie's use of universal business principles, and their never-say-die outlook despite facing one seemingly insurmountable hurdle after another. Those hardships, that hustle, and their heart, are the essence of the Barefoot Spirit.-For years, Michael and Bonnie, the Barefoot Wine founders, have been asked to write a book about how this brand got started and became a best seller. The Barefoot Spirit traces that history and tells the story of how an unknown novelty wine became an American icon. It chronicles the unlikely events that made it possible, and it lays out the cornerstone business and lifestyle philosophies that made it, ultimately, an enduring success. 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.-The Barefoot Spirit is not a dry business text. The lessons are cheerfully woven into a twenty-year business adventure 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 book was written by award-winning journalist Rick Kushman after hundreds of hours of research and interviews with Michael, Bonnie, and many others.-This book is a testament to the American Entrepreneurial Spirit of resourcefulness, imagination, innovation, and out-of-the-box thinking.-The Barefoot Spirit is an inspirational guidebook for anyone in business and a great read for everyone who loves a rags-to-riches story. Filled with encouragement, inspiration, and empowerment, including:
• How Michael and Bonnie used Worthy Cause Marketing instead of traditional advertising* How they used boot-strapping instead of conventional financing* The surprising advantages of being small and broke* How creating a fun, yet hardworking positive company culture encourages innovative leadership* How making mistakes the right way builds your business and saves essential relationships* Why attitude and determination trumps knowledge and experience-If you like wine, the wine country, or a story about how a plucky little winery transformed an industry, if you want to know what it takes to really succeed in the face of adversity, if you want to know how to use your core beliefs to build a national brand, then The Barefoot Spirit is for you.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

“This is a warm, wonderful, inspiring book that entertains and motivates at the same time.”
--Brian Tracy, Author of The Power of Self-Confidence

"Michael and Bonnie started the tradition of Worthy Cause Marketing and for well over a decade used their winery, Barefoot Cellars, to support the Mono Lake Committee’s grassroots efforts. Their approach helped spread the word about protection, restoration, and education at Mono Lake—inspiring people to get out and get involved."
--Geoff McQuilkin, Executive Director, Mono Lake Committee

"Michael and Bonnie took a chance on potentially losing sales when they supported our cause with Barefoot Cellars in the early 1990's. Their co-promotion with the League to Save Lake Tahoe took a strong position on a very controversial issue involving the development of the Lake Tahoe Basin. They helped us get the word out about our cause through wine shops, markets and restaurants in California."
--Darcie Goodman-Collins, PhD, Executive Director, League to Save Lake Tahoe

"Great read, great book. This story is beyond wine and the love of wine, it's about starting a business."
--Fran Tarkenton, Hall of Fame NFL Quarterback, Entrepreneur, & Sirius XM Radio Host of The Fran Tarkenton Show

"I thoroughly enjoyed The Barefoot Spirit. Since we just started classes this week, I decided to make it recommended reading for my entrepreneurship classes. (After it is out in print I will make it required reading). Why? Because it tells a lovely story and it embodies so much of the entrepreneurial mindset. The books was so readable (I loved the "voice" of the book and storytelling is such a wonderful way to communicate) and it was so intimate – it made me feel like I was on the journey with you. Both of you come across as such real and honest folks who were not willing to compromise your values to succeed. But that is not the BEST part of the story. You, in fact, were able to use those values to succeed in unconventional ways. One of the most important lessons I took away from this was that you were absolutely focused on excellence but you were able to combine that with fun! I love that – I agree with so much of your philosophy. For some reason many professors try to keep the fun out of learning. Consequently school becomes laborious. You worked very hard but you had fun. That is and has been my goal in my classroom. I think we need the barefoot spirit in education! When young children in kindergarten are asked how they can be creative – can they solve problems, dance, draw, sing, etc. – they all say yes – watch me! By the time I get to my college students – most of them are too fearful to have fun and try new things. We have to change our system! But enough of my soapbox. Needless to say I think I am a "barefooter"... and I feel so blessed to have read your book. THANK YOU! I have already used more than one quote in my classes the first day already! Some of my favorites: "At some point when you're an entrepreneur, you're a passenger on your own adventure. You adapt and ask, how do we make this work?" "[we] also had to decide regularly if what appeared to be money-making opportunities were real, or whether they would just create new problems." "When you are struggling, discipline can be painful." "...it is like biting from the apple of knowledge. There is no going back." In sum, I loved this book. I also enjoyed the fact that it was a partnership story. (My husband and I are both educators and work as a team) and I loved that there was such a strong female in this story. Sometimes that is hard to find in entrepreneurial stories. Bonnie – you are quite a role model in this book. Thanks for that. It was easy and fun to read (just like the barefoot spirit), it made me smile and I believe students will find it a fun addition to their library and in the process they will learn the most important lessons of entrepreneurship! Thank you for approaching this book with the same attitude for excellence and fun. I loved the book."
--Rebecca J. White, Professor, Entrepreneurship and James W. Walter, Distinguished Chair of Entrepreneurship Director, Entrepreneurship Center, The University of Tampa, John H. Sykes College of Business Tampa, Florida Outgoing President, United States Association for Small Business and Entrepreneurship

“Fun beach reading for small business inspiration. The Barefoot Spirit is an entertaining rags-to-riches story of American entrepreneurship. It’s the first-hand tale of California rule breakers Michael Houlihan and Bonnie Harvey, founders of the country’s top-selling wine brand.”
--Adrienne Burke, Yahoo! Small Business Writer

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780988224544
Publisher:
Evolve Publishing
Publication date:
05/21/2013
Pages:
272
Sales rank:
894,070
Product dimensions:
5.78(w) x 8.30(h) x 0.86(d)

What People are Saying About This

Yahoo! Small Business Writer - Adrienne Burke
"Fun beach reading for small business inspiration. The Barefoot Spirit is an entertaining rags-to-riches story of American entrepreneurship. It's the first-hand tale of California rule breakers Michael Houlihan and Bonnie Harvey, founders of the country's top-selling wine brand."
Kip Marlow
I try to read all the books of the authors on my show and am just getting into The Barefoot Spirit. It's one of the best books on entrepreneurship I've read. —Kip Marlow, Entrepreneur & Host of Entrepreneurs Club Radio
Hall of Fame NFL Quarterback, Entrepreneur, & Sirius XM Radio Host of The Fran Tarkenton Show - Fran Tarkenton
"Great read, great book. This story is beyond wine and the love of wine, it's about starting a business."
Rebecca J. White
I thoroughly enjoyed The Barefoot Spirit. Since we just started classes this week, I decided to make it recommended reading for my entrepreneurship classes. It tells a lovely story and it embodies so much of the entrepreneurial mindset. The books was so readable and so intimate — it made me feel like I was on the journey with you. Both of you come across as such real and honest folks who were not willing to compromise your values to succeed. But that is not the BEST part of the story. You, in fact, were able to use those values to succeed in unconventional ways. One of the most important lessons I took away from this was that you were absolutely focused on excellence but you were able to combine that with fun! That is and has been my goal in my classroom. I think we need the barefoot spirit in education! When young children in kindergarten are asked how they can be creative — can they solve problems, dance, draw, sing, etc. — they all say yes — watch me! By the time I get to my college students — most of them are too fearful to have fun and try new things. We have to change our system! I have already used more than one quote in my classes the first day already! In sum, I loved this book. I also enjoyed the fact that it was a partnership story. (My husband and I are both educators and work as a team) and I loved that there was such a strong female in this story. Sometimes that is hard to find in entrepreneurial stories. It was easy and fun to read (just like the barefoot spirit), it made me smile and I believe students will find it a fun addition to their library and in the process they will learn the most important lessons of entrepreneurship! - Rebecca J. White, Professor, Entrepreneurship and James W. Walter, Distinguished Chair of Entrepreneurship Director, Entrepreneurship Center, The University of Tampa, John H. Sykes College of Business Tampa, Florida Outgoing President, United States Association for Small Business and Entrepreneurship

Meet the Author

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.

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The Barefoot Spirit: How Hardship, Hustle, and Heart Built America's #1 Wine Brand 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is such a fun read! I have always been fascinated by the wine industry and this book gave me great insight on how it works. Not only will you learn a ton about the business aspects, you will get some great laughs in as well while following the journey that Michael and Bonnie took in creating a wine brand that I see all the time in every grocery store with that foot on the label. This book makes me want to go pick up a bottle of Barefoot next time I see one.  
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great book. I've been recommending it to friends both in and out of the wine business, and telling them "to pour yourself a glass of Barefoot Wine, grab a comfy spot somewhere, preferably a hammock, and enjoy the journey." This story revolves around the area I worked in for over nine years (Westside Road). I know Hampton and some of the Bynum family. I know Kate MacMurrray and used to watch her ride her horse thru the MacMurray Pinot Noir vineyard. I watched as that vineyard was born from the grading of the hills. The book. It was interesting to read about Michael and Bonnie’s trials and errors and how they have no fear sharing their acquired wisdom. Kudo’s to them for doing that. Beyond the story of growing a business, Michael and Bonnie showed how human business owners can be and how when you are on the right path, with belief in yourself and a lot of perseverance, wonders can happen. I hope I get the chance to meet them someday and thank them in person.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
If you love Barefoot wine, read about how it all got started in this fun to read book. I just wish all entrepreneurs had a bit of the Barefoot Spirit in them. The world would be a LOT better place (more fun too)!