Beach ReadWhen we started writing The Barefoot Spirit, we wanted to share business concepts we had learned building a successful business from scratch. In order for the reader to benefit from those concepts, we knew it had to be entertaining so people would finish it. Books with dry business lessons are rarely finished.

We loved Social Network, for instance, because it was an exciting story about Facebook, a brand we all know. We wanted to know the story behind the success. It was a story that held us because its real world rollercoaster ride and entertaining characters kept us riveted. The bonus was the business lessons we walked away with.

That’s the style we wanted for our book – a business adventure story – not a prescriptive textbook. Sure, we made lists of business lessons we wanted to get across. But we knew they would be boring by themselves. They needed to be in the background with the fun, real-life story up front.

We are primarily business writers, but we wanted the book itself to be a fun and easy read that would entertain and appeal to the general public. We decided to tell our story to a professional writer who could skillfully deliver a polished piece of journalism. So we first started with a writer our consultant recommended. After the book was two-thirds finished, we trashed it. It was just was too stuffy and not our style.

Then we found Rich Kushman. He is an award-winning journalist who wrote the food and wine column for the Sacramento Bee for many years. He thought the same way about wine and books that we did – that they should be enjoyed by the average person. And he loved to write using humor! The day we met, we knew we had a winner!

Many authors use ghostwriters whose names don’t appear on the cover. We chose to celebrate the fact that Rick wrote our story. He’s on the cover as a co-author. We wanted to let the public know that this book was skillfully written by a professional, and it would not be another boring biography.

Next vexing problem: How could we come up with a way to tell our story without using “I” and “we” in every sentence? With Rick’s creative input, we decided it would be “about” us, not “by” us. But our voices are heard in the interviews at the end of every chapter where we reminisce like “Monday morning quarterbacks.”

Then, after we finished the text, we wanted to bring the stories to life with cartoon-style illustrations, like the ones in The New Yorker Magazine. Fortunately, we found a New York artist, Sidney Marra, who captured the action in a fun and stylish way. We also added a table of contents that would pique the interest of the most critical browser. And, we chose an easy-to-read font that was large enough to be easy on the eyes.

Meanwhile, what about the cover? It had to say “Beach Read.” It had to evoke the feeling of the warm tropical beach with the ocean sunset we all want to relax in front of when we read our vacation book.

So there you have it – a beach read business adventure story, in Rick’s voice! Whew! We had so much to say, but thanks to Rick, we got it down to a 275-page, large-font, easy-reading page turner with some fun cartoons and an eye-catching cover.

Add the ‘Spirit to your vacation this year! It was designed especially for you!

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

To make inquiries for keynote speaking, trainings or consulting, please contact