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


By Michael Houlihan & Bonnie Harvey with Rick Kushman
Evolve Publishing, $15.95, 275 pages

It’s hard to believe, but authors Michael Houlihan and Bonnie Harvey relate stories about their business, Barefoot Wines, for nearly three-hundred pages in The Barefoot Spirit and still manage to keep you entertained throughout. Their story started in 1986, when the authors knew next to nothing about creating and running a wine business and building a brand. They had unprecedented success until a major wine maker bought their business and label nineteen years later. The authors decided to write the book in third-person and every page is filled with excellent stories and anecdotes about building their business, with Houlihan in the “front office” and Harvey in the “back office,” perfectly complementing the other’s strengths and weaknesses.

“The tale of Barefoot Cellars is like no other in wine and it’s a landmark in American business.”

The writing is great, very readable and very entertaining. From a business point-of-view, it is very educational and informative. The authors punctuate their stories of building a popular, consistent wine brand with many enjoyable dialogues and humorous anecdotes. They also break up the text with occasional comic strip-like sketches. Dividing the text into short sections and paragraphs further facilitates the ease of reading. Each chapter ends with a brief three or four-page interview with journalist Rick Kushman. All are a joy to read.

Reviewed by George Erdosh

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