Our Family

People, Passion, & A Sense Of Place

 

These three unique ingredients, strengthened by hard work and bolstered by perseverance, define what we are all about here at Casanel Vineyards & Winery.

Casey-Nelson

People

On a cold, clear November day in 2006, our owners, Casey and Nelson DeSouza, left their mark: two signatures penned along the dotted lines, laying claim to the ownership of what was now their very own little slice of heaven. Casanel Farm was born, and little did they know what an awesome, monumental undertaking lay ahead of them. Casanel was a homestead, a place we could call our own, and a place where we could build something beautiful that celebrated the history of land ownership and having your own business.

Through the growth and journey of this business, we have found so many people. From our hard-working tasting room staff, to our loyal club, to the vineyard crews, and all the vendors in between that have helped develop what Casanel is.  Without these people and their passion and their love for us, Casanel does not exist. They are a part of our unique experience as they act as cheerleaders and ambassadors of our brand to create a unique Virginia wine experience.

Passion

We started right away, hand-planting over 10,000 vines on eight acres in three separate vineyards on the property. We chose varieties that defined regions (Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, Cabernet Sauvignon), and varieties that we hoped would define us as a Virginia farm winery (Carménère, Petit Verdot, and Norton). We set to work on renovating and restoring the historical buildings on our property: choosing to reuse the wood and stone of our land, combining old world with the new, as well as paying homage to those who came before us. In the meantime, while our vines were growing, we chose to source quality fruit from our neighbors in Loudoun County, and to produce wines that would highlight the uniqueness of our region here in Northern Virginia. However, our main goal, what we strove for years to achieve, was to be fully Estate, in that we would grow our own grapes and produce our own wine right here on our home site. A unique experience where we are involved from bud to bottle.

leaves

A Sense Of Place

Our first Estate harvest was hand-picked by our family in September of 2010. We grew and expanded in the tasting room, and became a part of the rapidly growing wine country of Loudoun County. 

Our first Estate crush began in the Fall of 2014, which led to our first Estate hand-bottling in the following Spring of 2015. We re-branded Casanel Vineyards as Casanel Vineyards and Winery in June of 2015. After many years, the fruits of our labor were showcased in every bottle. We continue to strive as close to estate grown and bottled as possible and to preserve the beauty of our property located here in Loudoun County. Come enjoy the serenity and peace it offers.

We have the people, the passion, and the sense of place to give us the motivation to keep going, to keep experimenting and creating, and to prove that Virginia deserves a seat at the international wine table. 

We cannot wait to share our story with you.

Sincerely, 

The Casanel Family

Nelson DeSouza - Owner

Nelson was born in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in 1942. He was the eldest of 12 children of Moyses and Dorcelina DeSouza. 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, he finally rose above his humble origins and arrived safely in the United States. He began his life here as a carpenter, working in Washington D.C. and making many friends throughout the years who have played major roles in his successes as an entrepreneur, father, and champion of the United States.

Casey DeSouza - Owner

Kathleen, known affectionately as Casey by her family and friends, was Nelson’s wife and co-creator of Casanel Vineyards & Winery. The name “Casanel” is a combination of the first three letters of both Casey’s & Nelson’s names – from the moment they met, the two were a perfect blend of each other, always working together to achieve their dreams and provide for their family. Casey passed away peacefully in her sleep on the morning of January 3rd, 2021 here on the farm. Family was most important to Casey, and when starting Casanel, she and Nelson made sure to put family first when it came to business. She was our rock, our matriarch, and our best friend. Rest peacefully, Mom. 

Anna Want - Hospitality Manager

When Anna’s parents told her they had bought property in Leesburg to grow grapes and make wine, she couldn’t have been more surprised. Having just finished earning her bachelors in history at Virginia Tech and soon to be married to Elliotte, Anna started helping Nelson with the construction of the stone barn. Anna always thought teaching history was her future, and despite earning her masters in education in 2009, she realized the new family business was calling her home. Anna learned as much as she could about wine before the grand opening in October 2008, and she’s been behind the bar ever since. Anna’s position has expanded as the business has grown. She is still in the tasting room, but she now also serves as Casanel’s Hospitality Manager, helping to run the day-to-day operations of the winery. Anna’s vision for Casanel is one of knowledge. She looks forward to teaching people about what makes Casanel wine unique and sharing her family’s story with you.

Adam McTaggart - Winemaker

Adam McTaggart has over 20 years of vineyard and winery experience at some of the finest wine producers in Ontario, Canada, Virginia, and Maryland. Adam has been working in vineyards since he was 14 years old, but really became serious about pursuing a career in the wine industry when he was in college studying biology. At that time he took a Vineyard Assistant position at the Malivoire Wine Company in Beamsville, Ontario where he learned the various cultural techniques that are instrumental in producing top quality grapes. During Adam’s five years working at Malivoire he completed his bachelor’s degree in biology and obtained a post-graduate certificate in oenology and viticulture from CCOVI Brock University. Since then Adam has worked as cellar master and eventualy head winemaker and vineyard manager at Boxwood Winery, and now manages a small vineyard and private winery in Maryland.

Hours of Operation

FRI – MON
11:00 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.

17952 and 17956 Canby Road
Leesburg, VA 20175

Contact Us

540-751-1776
[email protected]