When you see the flash of a bright label and that iconic foot stamp, you immediately know you’re in for a wonderful wine experience. Barefoot, the most-loved wine brand in the United States, has become a household name, beloved for its approachability, affordability, and delicious, fruit-forward wines.
But something most wine consumers don’t know is that Barefoot is 63 years old, has been supporting the LGBTQ+ community long before it was fashionable, and spearheaded the movement to democratize wine. Founded in 1965 by Davis Bynum in his garage-turned-winery in Alameda County, Calif., the name is inspired by the grin-inducing practice of crushing grapes — you guessed it — barefoot.
The Barefoot Beginning
Michael Houlihan and Bonnie Harvey took over the company in 1985 and looked at the iconic label a bit differently. Though certainly a nod to wine’s origins, to them, the foot served as an invitation to kick back and relax.
Jennifer Wall, the winemaker behind the Barefoot wines we know and love today, has spent 28 years meticulously crafting each style and has seen the brand evolve over the decades. “Our first sales manager, Randy Arnold, said it best: Barefoot is making the world a better place through wine,” she says.
“Randy would take our wines and partner with nonprofits or charity organizations and pour wine at their events,” Wall says. At this time, it was the Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon, and the popular White Zinfandel. “He’d talk to the guests about wines and then refer them to local independent markets where the wines were sold.”
Since then, Barefoot has become the number one wine brand in America.1
A Diverse Collection of Delicious Wines
These were the beginnings of Barefoot’s beloved, colorful portfolio, which remain some of America’s favorite wines today. The Cabernet Sauvignon, a traditional red wine with blackberry aromas and a velvety finish, pairs well with a hearty chili or classic burger. Meanwhile, the Sauvignon Blanc, crisp and aromatic with a bouquet of tart apple and pear on the nose, goes down smooth with your favorite chips and dip — spicy hummus, spinach-artichoke, you name it.
“There wasn’t a distinct wine style,” Wall says of the portfolio at the time when she joined the company. “That’s when I came in and decided that we needed to develop a wine style for Barefoot. So that style we developed, that we continue to enjoy today, is varietally correct, fruit-forward, and food-friendly.”
This philosophy turned into what is now Barefoot’s core wines. The portfolio expanded by adding the well-lauded Pinot Grigio, which is the best-selling Pinot Grigio in the U.S.2 It’s a balanced, vibrant, and refreshing-tasting wine that pairs with charcuterie, carby snacks like soft pretzels, and chips (with guac, of course).
The Moscato and Pink Moscato sweeten things up a bit. The Moscato bursts with jasmine aromas, complementing the tangerine and Mandarin orange flavors, while the Pink Moscato offers the same jasmine nose alongside notes of juicy raspberry and a sweet lime finish. Finally, the classic Chardonnay, the only white wine in the Barefoot portfolio that spends time in oak, is rich with apple aroma and layers of vanilla flavor.
That’s the great thing about Barefoot wines. They’re approachable and easy to enjoy alone, but they also go with non-traditional pairings (though you can certainly enjoy them with something more traditional if that’s your style). Wine isn’t just for fancy steak dinners anymore. You can pick up Barefoot wine on a weeknight without having to do extensive research in the middle of the grocery store.
And that’s just one of the reasons why it’s become America’s most-loved wine.
The Art of Affordable, High-Quality Wines
Barefoot joined the E. & J. Gallo Winery family in January 2005. With access to Gallo’s resources, Barefoot released the hit Pinot Grigio in 2006 and the Barefoot Moscato in 2008, a game changer for the industry.
“Our Moscato changed the perception of the wine sweetness scale,” Wall says. “All those people who were newly coming into wine, who thought that wines were too sour, even White Zinfandel wasn’t sweet enough — they started coming into the wine category not only through Barefoot but through Barefoot Moscato.”
Wall explains that the addition was “monumental” to the portfolio and that Barefoot’s Moscato continues to welcome new consumers into the world of wine today.
Today, Barefoot has a wide portfolio of blends, spritzers, and varietals in a variety of sizes that make it convenient to access and fun to enjoy. Pouring for a crowd? Pick up a 3-liter box of Barefoot On Tap. Heading to the beach and need something simple to handle in the sand? A Barefoot Wine-to-Go Rosé is your new best friend!
Barefoot is easy to find in grocery stores all across the country; every bottle has the iconic bare foot, no matter what varietal or size it is. The distinctive, color-coded labels make it easy to find a varietal you may not remember the name of. You don’t have to stop in a specialty wine spot or liquor store; you don’t need to know much about wine or wine pairings to host a special evening or relaxing kickback. Simply pick up a bottle of Barefoot and trust that it’s going to be delicious and easy to enjoy.
Throughout its growth and rise to become the most-loved wine brand in the United States, Barefoot has remained committed to being an inclusive brand that gives back to the community.
A Commitment to Giving Back
Barefoot has dedicated itself to the community, supporting many charitable organizations supporting the environment, restaurant employees, and the LGBTQ+ community. In June 2020, Barefoot released its first Pride package to exemplify support for the LGBTQ+ community. Currently, the Pride edition of Barefoot Bubbly is available alongside all of Barefoot’s other wines. Barefoot also partners with organizations that are promoting messaging of inclusivity — Free Mom Hugs and the National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE). Support goes far beyond money — from product donations to volunteering, event sponsorships, fundraising, or partnering to advance a message together.3
“I knew from early on that Barefoot was special,” Wall says. “One of the things that has always been important to me is making wines that people can afford to enjoy with their family and friends. What I think is special about Barefoot is that we’re making really high-quality wines for an affordable price. We like to make the world a better place through wine.”
With delicious varietals, high-quality and approachable wines, and a legacy of being unafraid to break conventions, you need not look any further than Barefoot when you’re in the market for a crowd-pleaser. And the best part? You can feel good supporting a company that produces great wine and champions important causes. When it comes to Barefoot, wine truly is for everyone. So why not grab a bottle (or two!) the next time you’re at the store? Your wallet, and your taste buds, will thank you.
- IRI- Total US (B/W/S);Latest 52 Weeks Ending 04-02-23, Dollar Sales
- IRI- Total US (B/W/S);Latest 52 Weeks Ending 04-02-23, Pinot Grigio Dollar Sales
- Gallo Internal CCV. 2022
This article is sponsored by Barefoot Wine.