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Harvey, Houlihan Went Barefoot Building Wine Giant

By CURT SCHLEIER, FOR INVESTOR’S BUSINESS DAILY

Bonnie Harvey and Michael Houlihan founded Barefoot Wine in 1986 and within two decades were selling 600,000 cases a year of the $5 bottles. Jennifer...

In the early 1980s, the wine market was largely dedicated to what Michael Houlihan calls “the sniff, sip and spit crowd.”

That is, people who prided themselves on their knowledge of fine wine — or could fake it.

But Houlihan and his partner, Bonnie Harvey, saw a market for inexpensive yet quality table wine for everyday folks.

They took that notion and, in 1986, founded Barefoot Wine in Forestville, Calif., just north of San Francisco.

Nineteen years later, Barefoot was selling 600,000 cases annually and was bought by E&J Gallo Winery for reportedly eight figures.

To achieve this success, Houlihan and Harvey defied industry naysayers, navigated myriad state and federal liquor regulations and creatively marketed their product.

Recently they came out with “The Barefoot Spirit,” a book about how they built a winner.

Houlihan, 68, and Harvey, 62, have been in a romantic relationship for three decades. Since selling Barefoot, they’ve teamed up as consultants and professional speakers on entrepreneurship.

 

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Who We Are

Michael Houlihan and Bonnie Harvey Barefoot Wine Founders

Michael Houlihan and Bonnie Harvey co-authored the New York Times bestselling business book, The Barefoot Spirit: How Hardship, Hustle, and Heart Built America’s #1 Wine Brand. The book has been selected as recommended reading in the CEO Library for CEO Forum, the C-Suite Book Club, and numerous university classes on business and entrepreneurship. It chronicles their humble beginnings from the laundry room of a rented Sonoma County farmhouse to the board room of E&J Gallo, who ultimately acquired their brand and engaged them as brand consultants. Barefoot is now the world’s largest wine brand.

Beginning with virtually no money and no wine industry experience, they employed innovative ideas to overcome obstacles, create new markets and forge strategic alliances. They pioneered Worthy Cause Marketing and performance-based compensation. They built an internationally bestselling brand and received their industry’s “Hot Brand” award for several consecutive years.

They offer their Guiding Principles for Success (GPS) to help entrepreneurs become successful. Their book, The Entrepreneurial Culture: 23 Ways To Engage and Empower Your People, helps corporations maximize the value of their human resources.

Currently they travel the world leading workshops, trainings, & keynoting at business schools, corporations, conferences. They are regular media guests and contributors to international publications and professional journals. They are C-Suite Network Advisors & Contributing Editors. Visit their popular brand building site at www.consumerbrandbuilders.com.

To make inquiries for keynote speaking, trainings or consulting, please contact sales@thebarefootspirit.com.