Michael Houlihan and Bonnie Harvey

About The Barefoot Spirit

It is hard to believe that such an iconic brand as Barefoot Wines began 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.

 

Bizcast-for-CSBC-Website

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Think Like a Two-Division Company: Sales and Sales-Support

As corporations grow larger, they tend to forget their humble beginnings. When one to three people started out in a garage — desperately trying to stay in business and pay the bills — it was impossible not to put the customer on top every day and in every way. Production and marketing regularly had to alter their pitch and product to be in line with ever-changing customer demands. They had to listen to, and immediately act upon, the recommendations of the sales people and the customer service people if they wanted to compete with their bigger competitors. To the founding entrepreneurs, every complaint was golden.

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About the Authors

Michael Houlihan and Bonnie Harvey, authors of The Barefoot Spirit: How Hardship, Hustle, and Heart Built America’s #1 Wine Brand, started the Barefoot Wine brand in their laundry room in 1986, made it a nationwide bestseller, and successfully sold the brand to E&J Gallo in 2005. Starting with virtually no money and no wine industry experience, they employed innovative ideas to overcome obstacles and create new markets.

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