Krāzē Legz Vineyard and Winery
Proprietors: Susan and Gerry Thygesen
Winemaker: Susan and Gerry Thygesen with a consultant
Viticulturist: Gerry Thygesen
Vineyard Size: 3.2 hectares
Key grape varieties: Chardonnay, Pinot Blanc, Merlot, Cabernet Franc
Production: 2,000 cases in 2012 vintage
Wines: Charleston Chardonnay, The Bees Knees Pinot Blanc, Speakeasy Rosé, The Lindy Hop White Blend, The Black Bottom Stomp Merlot Cabernet Franc, The Cakewalk Merlot, All That Jazz Red Blend.
Krāzē Legz Vineyard and Winery is a family owned and operated estate winery.
Gerry and Susan Thygesen visually differentiated this winery from its peers by adopting a Roaring 1920s theme. That decade was a golden era of the Charleston, a provocative dance whose high kicking steps inspired this winery’s name, Krāzē Legz, pronounced crazy legs. The decade also encompassed Prohibition in the United States and much of Canada. Citizens got around that ineffective ban on alcohol by patronizing unlicensed bars called speakeasies, whose locked doors usually had keyholes or peepholes through which patrons could be screened. A keyhole can be found on every bottle, and in the door of this winery’s tasting room, although patrons are not expected to say “Joe sent me” or utter a similar 1920s password before entering.
The wines, whose labels feature jazz dancers, are branded around the musical terms or the colloquial language of the 1920s. Charleston was the era’s most popular dance. Other favourites included the Cakewalk, the Lindy Hop and the Black Bottom Stomp (the latter from a Jelly Roll Morton composition). The Bee’s Knees was slang for excellence, inspired perhaps by the knees of Bee Jackson, a World Champion Charleston dancer in the Roaring Twenties. The background music played in the Krāzē Legz wine shop is jazz from that era and, on occasion, the tasting room hosts wear flapper-style fashions.
This detailed attention to branding reflects Gerry Thygesen’s previous career as a marketer of consumer food products. That marketing career began in 1980 with Okanagan Dried Fruits, a Penticton company that became a national success, with Gerry as their Vice President Marketing and Sales. He joined a similar company in Seattle in 1996, and continued as a marketing vice-president for several American food companies before returning to the Okanagan in 2007 to plant the Krāzē Legz vineyard at Kaleden. He and Susan, an equestrian and equine photographer, bought this property in 1995, formerly an apple and peach orchard, with an eventual winery in mind.
Krāzē Legz is the first winery in Kaleden. There have been vineyards here at least since the 1970s but, despite the easy access from the highway, no winery was developed here until Krāzē Legz opened in the fall of 2010.