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The bare facts behind the Barefoot Wine Spirit Part 1

Martin Jones for (Michael Houlihan & Bonnie Harvey)

“This is not a get rich quick plan,” said Michael Houlihan during our first phone conversation in November. “Too often people try them out and after awhile they fail.” What Houlihan says not untrue and does occur far too often. What he’s alluding to though are the stories readers will discover in his new book The Barefoot Spirit. The book, which was co written long with partner Bonnie Harvey and Rick Kushman of the Sacramento Bee, details their journey to the top of the wine industry.

It recounts numerous tales of how the two started Barefoot Cellars back in 1985 out of a laundry room in a two-story home in Sonoma County, California to how the Barefoot Spirit became a Fortune 500 enterprise which would eventually be sold to the Ernest and Julio Gallo stable. In the book, Houlihan and Harvey share their hardships in life and in the wine business. They also give the read an inside look into how they managed to get the word out about their product via social activism channels; participating in many charitable efforts ranging from AIDS awareness to homeless services.  Also in this fantastic read is an inside look into the behind the scenes wrangling in the wine industry cutting into the meat and potatoes of how things really get done.

The Barefoot Spirit is slated for release on Amazon in paper and eBook in January. However, Houlihan and Harvey are offering customers the opportunity to purchase it on their website Customers have the option of downloading the material or have a hardcopy shipped to them free of charge.  And judging from the stories abound in it this book may prove to be more than just a mere stocking stuffer.

As for the overall message of the book Houlihan offered this, “We wrote The Barefoot Spirit to encourage those folks with a real life example of a product they know that was started by people not that much different than themselves. Yes it took years, yes it was painful, but yes it was successful.  We hope our example, told in a business adventure story format will become a best seller so that more people will get this message at a time when we need some good news.” These powerful sets of statements shouldn’t be ignored because they come from a man who in the span of twenty years co-created the largest wine brand in the United States.

With regard to Latinos, Houlihan asserted we too can benefit from his message that he provides with that “west coast smile” of his. He believes it’s imperative that we all take part in the American entrepreneurial spirit. It’s obvious through seeing all of his success that Houlihan knows what he speaks of. But what isn’t to those who have either seen or consumed his stellar product is how he invested in Latino communities over time. The investments made by Michael and Bonnie began in Santa Clarita, California then branched out to markets in Mexico and the Caribbean. It’s one of the stories that may be slightly unnoticed to some but it won’t be for long as it will be fully disclosed in the second and final part of this series.

About Adriana Villavicencio

Dr. Adriana Villavicencio is the youngest child of Ecuadorian immigrants. She has moved 29 times in her life, taking her on a journey from California to Bangalore, India, and New York City, where she recently earned a Ph.D. in Education Leadership and works as a Research Associate at New York University. An avid traveler, Adriana has collected experiences in four different continents and 16 different countries. But as a former high school English teacher, some of her fondest memories are those of her brilliant and brilliantly funny students in Brooklyn and Oakland. Adriana has contributed to several publications including the Daily News and, and is a managing editor for the Journal of Equity in Education. She earned a B.A. in English and an M.A. in English Education at Columbia University, and currently serves on the board of Columbia’s Latino Alumni Association (LAACU). She enjoys scary movies with red vines, Sauvignon Blanc, and her Maltese dog, Napoleon.

To learn more about Adriana’s education consulting company, please visit

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author and should not be understood to be shared by Being Latino, Inc.

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