Barefoot Travels

There's a group of people (in addition to us wine travel writers) who travel for wine.  And they welcome you to follow them around. They are called "Barefooters" and they represent a different kind of wine company. With Barefoot Wines, you don't go to a vineyard to taste wine, you travel to an event.

I met with Austin Duke (also known as "Rebel Toe" to his co-workers) at the Indianapolis Tennis Championships.  He was there giving out samples of wine.  We talked between pouring about the company he works for, where the motto is "Get Barefoot and have a great time!"  That's what his job is as a Barefooter. He brings the winery selection to events for sampling. From state food and wine festivals to the Sundance Film Festival, Barefooters travel around the country bringing good cheer to events people can travel to and have a good time. But that's not all Barefoot Wines does.

Barefoot Wines was purchased by E&J Gallo in 2005, but it's purpose has not changed even thought it is produced in Modesto, California, along with the company's Redwood Creek products. Barefoot was started in the 1960s and was officially launched in 1986 by Michael Houlihan and Bonnie Harvey. The two of them wanted to produce an affordable wine, but they also wanted to make a difference in the world. They have done so by traveling around the country to not only festivals, but charity events, where their "sampling" has helped raise over three million dollars. They also teamed up with the non-profit Surfrider Foundation and created the "Barefoot Beach Rescue Project."  Each Barefooter that works for them must volunteer for at least two beach cleanups a year.

Austin Duke was sampling white wines at the Indy Championships. Barefoot's Pinot Grigio, which is highly fruity with peach and apple flavors, sells for around $10 and has been written up in the Wall Street Journal as one of its favorites.  On the summer day of this event, it was the first one he ran out of, followed by the slightly sweeter Moscato (which can be found for half the price of the Pinot). The Chardonnay, which I was told was their best seller, didn't last much longer either, though many said they would prefer sipping that with dinner than on a warm day at the matches. At about $12 a bottle, it's pretty reasonable for both.

Check out all 15 of the Barefoot Wines, including their new Riesling, at their website. Also be sure to read about the volunteer opportunities.  And, of course, the events you can travel to where you can sample the wines!


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