Nelson and Kathleen DeSouza have proven to be quite a unique couple and wonderful parents. When we say unique, we mean they are a blend of cultures, beliefs, ambitions, and successes. They have persevered together and have achieved their “American Dream.”
Our father was born in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in 1942. He was the eldest of 12 children of Moyses and Dorcelina DeSouza. Nelson rose above his humble origins and found a way to come to America. His Father, Moyses, was an officer in the Brazilian navy and came to America to negotiate submarine purchases. Nelson visited him at age 15 and fell in love with the United States. Determined to return, he fulfilled his required military duty as a paratrooper in Brazil, obtained his visa, and in 1962 after many setbacks, arrived safely in the United States. He began his life here as a carpenter, worked in Washington D.C.
and made many friends throughout the years. Some have played major roles in his successes as an entrepreneur, father, and champion of the United States.
Kathleen, known affectionately by the nickname of Casey by her family and friends is number 10 of 11 children to Charles and Anna O’Donnell. Casey also grew up in a military family as her father served in the United States Air force. Although born at Ft Belvoir, Virginia, her family was relocated to many different places, including a long stay in Germany. Her love for Virginia kept her here where she worked hard and earned great respect for her abilities in accounting and organization with a defense contractor.
Our parents married on January 30, 1985 and quickly began their own business. With their combined talents and efforts, DeSouza Construction took off. It proved to be a company of great reputation and respect in the Washington DC metro areas. They continued to grow successfully and happily and we, Anna and Katie, grew up along with them.
So one asks, how and why did they decide to start a vineyard business? As mentioned earlier, Dad was born a Brazilian and with that comes his Portuguese roots. He befriended many Portuguese in the United States and was lucky to travel to Portugal where he encountered the romantic world of grapes. He became acquainted with the love affair the Portuguese had with their vineyards and often joked that his friends loved their vines more than their wives. Mom and Dad took us to Portugal and shared their ideas and appreciation for the process of growing the grapes and enjoying the “fruits” of one’s labor. It was a fantastic trip and it was then that their decision to own a vineyard was validated.
After retirement from their construction business, we knew that it would not last long. They took part in some real estate ventures; Dad was restless and was looking for new adventures, not to mention he was driving Mom nuts! On a stormy day in September 2006, Dad, with the able assistance of Cousin Theresa, surprised Mom with the farm off Canby Road. Nestled amongst the trees on Catoctin Mountain, they found a dreamland. Dad fell in love with the stone barn, built in the 1800s and immediately envisioned the tasting room. There is also a log cabin dating from the early 1800s, a lake, a running creek, and the serenity of a place untouched for some time. On November 5, 2006 their offer was accepted.
They have wasted no time, and continue the construction and planting. It is amazing how much they have already accomplished. The combination of their names, Casey and Nelson, is the farm’s name, Casanel. The name of the wine has a special meaning. The word Chegada means “arrival” in Portuguese. Dad thinks it is the perfect word. It represents his “arrival” to America, his past successes, and a dream of owning a vineyard. Mom, who came up with the idea; she especially likes it because the word “arrival” means many things for different people. Our parents would like others to celebrate their “arrivals” whether it is graduation, birthday, marriage, the arrival of a new baby, or the celebration of your dream come true!
We invite you to visit the vineyard. Please come to Casanel Farm and meet our remarkable parents; they are very excited to share and celebrate your Chegada.