June 3, 2013
Rick Kushman and co. land on New York Times' best seller list


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

"The Barefoot Spirit: How 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," which was 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 non-profit organizations over traditional advertising - and other anecdotes for those interested in building their own brand. It's a book for entrepreneurs of all types who want to learn about marketing strategies and creating a thriving corporate culture, rather than the 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. Along with Mike Dunne, The Bee's former food and wine editor, the two will be hunkered down this week 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" column, and we'll also send dispatches on Twitter @chris_macias. For now, congratulations once again to Kushman.

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