Wine Buzz: 'The Barefoot Spirit' earns best-seller stripe

Published: Tuesday, Jun. 4, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 3D
Last Modified: Wednesday, Jun. 5, 2013 - 8:19 am

'Wine Buzz" sends its kudos to Rick Kushman, the former Sacramento Bee columnist who can now add "New York Times best-selling author" to his résumé.

"The Barefoot Spirit: How Hardship, Hustle, and Heart Built America's #1 Wine Brand," which was penned by Kushman with Barefoot wine founders Michael Houlihan and Bonnie Harvey, recently reached No. 2 on the New York Times' best-sellers list for paperback business books. "The Barefoot Spirit" also reached No. 6 on the best-sellers list for "advice, how-to & miscellaneous."

"The Barefoot Spirit," released May 21, chronicles the rise of Barefoot Wines from a humble mom-and-pop operation in Sonoma County to a brand that was purchased by E&J Gallo in 2005 for an undisclosed amount and now produces 15 million cases annually.

But more than just ticking through the chronology of Barefoot Wines, the book offers salient business lessons – for example, promoting the brand by partnering with nonprofit organizations over traditional advertising – and other anecdotes for those interested in building their own brand.

It's a book for entrepreneurs who want to learn about marketing strategies and how to create a thriving corporate culture rather than the focusing on technical details of producing cabernet sauvignon on a mass scale.

Kushman, however, won't have much time to share a toast and revel in this choice accomplishment. He will be hunkered down with Mike Dunne, The Bee's former food and wine editor, as the chief judges at the California State Fair Commercial Wine Competition. This marks the first year this duo has overseen the competition, which evaluates more than 2,500 wines each year.

We'll have more on the competition in next week's "Wine Buzz." For now, congratulations once again to Kushman.

Rhône alert!

Rhône tasting tonight: California, and the Sierra foothills in particular, have become a hot spot for such Rhône varietals as grenache and syrah.

Taste Rhône-style wines from such producers as Bonny Doon and Broc Cellars today from 5:30- 7:30 p.m. at Enotria, 1431 Del Paso Blvd., Sacramento. $15. Information: (916) 922-6792,

Call The Bee's Chris Macias (916) 321-1253. Follow him on Twitter @chris_macias.

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