Category Archives: Bella Magazine

Chateau Morrisette’s Delicious New Cider!

Chateau Morrisette, Virginia winery and restaurant, unveiled its newest drinks this past Labor Day Weekend. Nestled beautifully within the town of Floyd, Chateau Morrisette now serves a line of three hard ciders: Barrel-Aged, Cherry Ginger and Chai Spiced.

“While we are winemakers, we are also farmers,” explains Keith Toler, Director of Marketing at Chateau Morrisette. “We maintain a good relationship with other local farmers for both our winemaking endeavors and our restaurant.”

Chateau Morrisette Winery and Restaurant is known for its wines, dog-friendly grounds and event hosting, but after careful consideration and talk of expansion, the concept of a hard cider arose quickly.

unspecified-1“From a marketing standpoint, we recognized a trend for wines with a lower alcohol content,” Toler says. “Our ciders are made from apple wine at the base, and through the development process, we were able to bring that alcohol content down to 6.9 percent, providing customers with a low-alcohol alternative to our other fruit wines. Handcrafted ciders work really well for people who do not like the bitterness of beer, but do not want the higher alcohol content of wine.”

Also playing a large role in the cider development at Chateau Morrisette is Brian Smyth, winemaker and cider connoisseur. Smyth oversees the decisions and tasks such as fermentation, picking, and fruit harvest times–all key elements in the development of Chateau Morrisette’s ciders.

“We’ve been trying to develop the ciders here for about a year, so we’ve spent a long time on the ciders just to get them together,” says Smyth. “This run is mostly a trial run, so the volume is relatively small. We’ve made about 300 gallons of each of the three flavors.”

The three new ciders are currently offered exclusively at Chateau Morrisette. Tastings can be scheduled throughout the week in the winery’s tasting room. Tickets are $5 a person, and tastings are held at the bottom of the hour.

“We want to hear customer feedback and gauge future demand,” Toler said. “If well-received, then we will use our distribution network to bring the ciders to retail outlets throughout Virginia—and possibly beyond.”

For more information about Chateau Morrisette, wine tastings, cider tastings, directions, or events, visit


Written by Emily McCaul

Nesselrod on the New

Planning a wedding is a beautiful experience. Selecting the right venue, often the earliest and most important step, can predict whether or not the subsequent items on your list will be stressful or enjoyable. We have spent the last several months in search of the perfect venue that offers multiple services and a phenomenal back drop for your celebrations. When we came across Nesselrod on the New River, we knew immediately that we had found the perfect wedding location.

Nesselrod is a romantic oasis surrounded by formal boxwood and hemlock gardens in Radford, Virginia. Its outdoor gazebo, gothic arches, and ethereal florals create a magical environment for weddings, receptions, rehearsals, and bridal portraits. Their outdoor season is from April through October, and during it they can accommodate up to 250 guests. From November to March, their guesthouse is perfect for more intimate weddings of up to 25 guests.

Roanoke Virginia Wedding Photographer and Photography
Roanoke Virginia Wedding Photographer and Photography

Couples may choose from one of four wedding packages. All packages include a wedding coordinator, parking attendant, and sound system for the ceremony. They also include tables, chairs, and linens on the patio and reception area for up to 120 guests. Additionally, gourmet meals are prepared by an onsite chef and served by staff, and the grounds are available for engagement and bridal portraits. For a truly unique experience, couples can add a horse and carriage to their ceremony and take advantage of amenities like golf, paddleboarding, fishing, tubing, or kayaking.

The Unforgettable Wedding package allows exclusive use of the estate from noon on Thursday until noon on Sunday, dinner on Thursday night for guests of the Inn, a massage for six guests of the bridal party, a bridal luncheon on Friday, a rehearsal evening complete with dinner options on the patio or in the gardens, and much more!

Those looking for a smaller ceremony with a reception inside the inn and a honeymoon suite for the bride and groom can find everything they need with the Intimate Wedding package. There are packages offered for elopements, mid-week and off season weddings, and everything in between.

Couples married during the month of October will have the added benefit of the fall foliage to create beautiful photos and priceless memories.

nesselrod1“A fall wedding at Nesselrod is unforgettable as it is a bride’s exclusive haven amongst the beautiful foliage and grounds that are unique to Nesselrod,” says Wedding Coordinator Kelsey Macintosh. “Brides can expect so many colors and backdrops for their October wedding, from the most vivid of greens to beautiful rustic oranges.”

This venue is the definition of unforgettable. Nesselrod brides will have their own dressing room, decorated with 18K gold cherubs and fine antiques. It is complete with a vanity, full-length mirror, ironing board, and shower. Here, the bride can relax with her bridesmaids and family before embarking on her special day.

A venue that helps you plan the length of your wedding weekend and includes the amenities best suited for your needs? Count us in! (Don’t forget to send an invitation to your favorite Bella girls!) For more information or to book your special day, visit

Halloween Reads: Local Author K.L. Kranes

K.L Kranes is a Virginia author debuting her first novel, The Travelers. This novel is about two Wiccan tribes and the love story between the two main characters, from opposite sides of the feud. I reimagined Romeo and Juliet story that takes place in the underbelly of our beloved state. I had the pleasure of speaking with K.L. Kranes about her experience writing her debut novel, a feat that took her 10 years to complete.
This book is an important part of K.L. Krane’s life. One scene is even based on one of her own memories with her husband. According to Kranes “[The Travelers] centers on this relationship between Marc and Dagny, who actually meet by chance on a plane. That chance encounter was actually based on how I met my husband, obviously without the witches and magic. But, many of the details in that meeting in the book are exactly what happened when I met my husband on a plane from LA to Australia. I had an editor once make a comment that the scene wasn’t realistic and would never happen like that and I could only think ‘but it did!’”

What is The Travelers about?
K. L.: The book follows Dagny and her family, who are Travelers. Imbued with magical abilities, they can transfer their souls from body to body, staying young forever. But it is not safe in the world for Travelers. For centuries, Dagny’s family has been pursued by an unknown enemy bent on their destruction. The only way to stay safe and hidden is to keep Traveling. But when Dagny meets Marc, everything changes. For the first time, she wants a future that doesn’t involve changing bodies. Despite the risk, Dagny vows to stop Traveling and be a normal girl. But as her enemies start closing in, Dagny starts to wonder if she can ever really be normal and if she can actually trust Marc.

travelers-cover-finalWhat makes The Travelers stand out from other fantasy novels?
K. L.: The Travelers isn’t just a standard fantasy novel about witches, where a girl meets a boy, falls in love and sinister forces try to tear them apart. My overall goal was to create a story about two groups of people who hate each other and, then, make the reader feel sympathy for both sides. Therefore, the book changes perspectives often. Although Dagny is the main focal point, it doesn’t just follow her character. The book takes a scene or experience and shows it to you from several different points of view. I hoped this approach would underscore the idea of trying to understand differences rather than judging with little information (i.e, “walk a mile in someone’s shoes”).

Give us an insight into your main character. What does he/she do that is so special? 
K. L.: Dagny is a Traveler, which means she is part of a group of witches that can move their souls from body to body and stay young forever. Travelers are rare and powerful, but also hated in this Wiccan world. Even among Travelers, Dagny is different. She is even more powerful than other Travelers. But, Dagny doesn’t want this power. She just wants to be a normal girl. I think that desire makes her special. Everyone wants to be a superhero. Here is someone who has great power and can stay young forever, travel the world with ease. Instead, she would rather grow old in one place and live a normal, peaceful life.

In a previous interview you describe her as “feisty.” Why is that?
K. L.: Travelers are hated in book and because Dagny is so powerful, her family fears even more for her safety. They keep her life strictly controlled. Unfortunately for them, Dagny is headstrong and impulsive. At the beginning of the book, she tries to be a good daughter and sister. But as the novel progresses, you see her rebel against her family, refusing to let their prejudices and fears become her own.

Where did the idea for this book come from?
K. L.: The idea started with the concept. I wanted to write a book about two people on opposite sides of a feud who’d been taught to hate each other and how they overcome that engrained hostility. I also wanted to turn the tables on the typical story often seen in YA fantasy books, particularly vampire novels where the older, wiser vampire falls for a young girl. And I didn’t want to write another vampire story, plenty amazing ones have been written already. So I came up with the idea of Travelers who move from body to body and stay young for centuries and made the main character a female Traveler who falls for a technically younger boy.

How much research did you have to do for this book?
K.L.: This may sound strange, but I tried not to do too much research. My fantasy novel is about magic and Wicca. However, I didn’t want it to be reflective of the actual Wicca religion. Sometimes I would research symbols or meanings for inspiration. But, in general, I wanted the witches not to be constrained by current convention.

What is the hardest thing about writing this novel?
K.L. I think the hardest part was actually showing it people. I spent 10 years writing this book, not because it took me 10 years to write it. But because it took me a long time to build up the courage just to show it to my husband. Then, it took even more years before I showed it any additional people. My parents and best friend only read it with in the last year during the publishing stages.

What draws you to the fantasy genre?

K.L. I’ve always enjoyed the dark, mystical aspect of stories. My first favorite books growing up were by R. L. Stein, Stephen King and Anne Rice. As a girl I wanted to be Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I like that fantasy takes you into a different and exciting world, but still reflects something about real life. In fantasy, novels you can explore issues and concepts through a different lens and I think, sometimes, that can be even more effective than showing people reality.

How long did it take to write your book?
K. L.: It took me about 10 years. However, as I said previously, I didn’t write it the entire time. I shelved the book for years on end at different points because it took me so long to build up the courage to show it to anyone, let alone submit it to a publisher.

Any tips on how to get through the dreaded writer’s block?
K. L.: My best tip is to stop whatever you are writing and write something else. For me, it’s kind of like when you can’t think of a word or an idea, so you do something else and then it pops into your head. Writing something completely different, even it if it something mundane like an email, clears my head and helps me move forward on my other project.

klkranes-pictureWhy do you write?
K. L.: The simple answer is because I love it. I can start writing something and spend hours on it and it feels like only minutes have passed.

If you could have been the original author of any book, what would it have been and why?
K. L.: I wish I wrote a lot of books. However, I recently read Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead. I couldn’t help thinking as I read it how much I wished I could write something so unique and powerful. To me, it was like The Color Purple meets Gulliver’s Travels. I’d never read anything like it.

What advice would you give to your younger self?
K. L.: Don’t be afraid to show people your writing or wait so long before submitting it to publisher.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
K. L.: Probably the same advice I’d give my younger self. Don’t be afraid. Show your work to people. Feedback is critical and helps to shape you as a person and a writer.

Be on the look-out for this Virginia Native’s debut novel The Travelers paper back was recently released on June 23, 2016! It would make a great read for October or gift for the Halloween lover in your life! Also, be sure to check out her blog at


Written by Nicole Brobston

Blue Ridge Potters Guild Annual Show

Blue Ridge Potters Guild will host their 17th Annual Show and Sale at Patrick Henry High School on October 14-16. This event showcases over 70 local artists and offers an incredible range of hand crafted pottery. It will also mark the 20th birthday celebration of the Blue Ridge Potters Guild, a community made up of over 115 members who share ideas and promote the work of local and regional potters. Their mission is to promote community awareness, understanding, and appreciation of pottery. Members can often be found teaching or attending workshops and volunteering their time to teach pottery in local schools.

Regardless of how many years they have worked with the guild, members seem to reflect this mission in both their work and their interactions with the community.

Artist Beth Wiseman

Beth Wiseman, who is serving as the Publicity Chair this year, joined the guild two years ago. Within the guild, there are those who have been creating pottery for over forty years and there are also beginners.
“I’ve been doing pottery for three and a half years,” says Beth. “With this organization, I’ve found a great place for a newcomer, like myself, to reach out and get some expertise from those who are more experienced.”

Beth Wiseman pottery

Beth’s pieces tend to fall more in the functional category of pottery. Her works include coffee mugs, bowls, and soap dishes. Recently, she’s been excited about creating jewelry pieces that she thinks are going to be pendants.

Using a technique called sgraffito, Beth creates unique designs in the clay that reflect her mood. “Sgraffito is the process of painting on an underglaze and carving the negative space to reveal a design underneath. It is akin to woodblock carving. It can be used in any surface design,” she explains.

As far as the design she chooses, much of her inspiration comes from her previous occupation as a park ranger. She does not strive to duplicate any design as she prefers each piece to be an individual piece of art. However, some of the process is influenced by her children, ages five and eight.

“My children are with me most of the time. My husband recently set up a studio for me in our basement and they are usually in the playroom while I’m working. This allows me to do something for myself and be there for my kids,” says Beth. “Sometimes, my daughter will come over and make a suggestion. I once did a series of foxes on mugs just because she suggested it. Children are so uninhibited. They haven’t been told what’s right and what’s wrong, so some of their ideas tend to be fresher.”

Of course, going into a piece of work with a plan does not always turn out the way Beth intended.

“Clay doesn’t always turn out the way you think it’s going to. You have to be accepting of that, and sometimes it can turn out better than you planned. The entire process has helped me let go of being a perfectionist. As I get older, I’m far more accepting of things that don’t turn out the way I think they should. I remind myself to not let the perfect get in the way of the good,” says Beth.

Artist Elane Watson

For Elane Watson, an experienced potter of several decades, planning is not an issue. At 41 years old, she enrolled at Kansas State University, where she got her BFA with an emphasis in ceramics. Initially, she was interested in painting, but those classes were full. Upon receiving this news, she wandered down the hall where a pottery class with one empty seat awaited. The teacher assured her that she could paint on clay. There, she started in a form of pottery called Raku and continues to work in it today.

“Basically, I don’t plan. I call myself an intuitive artist. I always start with a bowl. I call my pieces ‘Praise Pots’ because they always start with a pot. I then let it guide me as to how I end up with my design. Sometimes I will put actual arms on them. Sometimes I’ll shape them into the pots themselves,” explains Elane.

Viewing Elane’s work is a memorable experience. She often records the reaction of passersby in a notebook, even if they don’t make a purchase.

“My Praise Pots always have their mouths open and rejoicing,” she adds. “Everyone can recognize my work by that. Even if I don’t sell it, it makes people happy, and that is my goal.”

Elane Watson Pottery

With her Praise Pots, Elane works with a technique called coiling. This process requires that she add one coil at a time to create the piece. She also works with a slab roller for her beautiful tiles with intricate designs that often include an array of geometric shapes. Additionally, Elane creates beautiful jewelry and works of art from fused glass. Each piece is unique and showcases the skill she has developed over the years.

One of Elane’s Praise Pots, inspired by the Prodigal Son, will be on display at this year’s show. The Gallery theme is “Coming Home,” and one can’t help but feel the joy of the son wrapped in his father’s arms, forever cast in a happy embrace.

Several other members of the Blue Ridge Potters Guild will have work on display in the same gallery, and they will be judged by PR entrepreneur, River Laker. Winning pieces will be awarded certificates of merit based on the quality of the work as it relates to various aspects of the theme.

To learn more about the Blue Ridge Potters Guild, and for more information on their annual show, go to The show will take place at Patrick Henry High School on Friday, October 14 (6pm-9pm), Saturday, October 15 (10am-6pm), and Sunday, October 16 (12pm-5pm). Admission is free and cash, checks, and credit cards are accepted for purchases.

Helping Victims of Domestic Violence

Until we live in a world where domestic violence no longer exists, it is important that we remember the victims include all ethnicities, income levels, and age groups. The bravest thing a victim can do is seek help, and it is important for everyone in a community to know where to send someone who needs those services.

Family Services of Roanoke Valley, TAP Domestic Violence Services, and the Salvation Army’s Turning Point are working together to offer a “Star City Survivors Support Group.” This group offers comprehensive support for survivors of domestic violence and meets twice each week—once in the morning and once in the evening. The collaboration also includes a weekly support group offered by Family Service staff at Turning Point. Their goal is to empower survivors through trauma awareness and skill-building.

The best part about this partnership is that it creates an opportunity for each organization to offer their best services to those in need. Family Services of Roanoke Valley is a mental health counseling agency that provides individual and group counseling for people regardless of age or ability to pay. This includes children, adults, families, elderly, and group counseling. Some children who receive their services will continue to do so as adults.

Turning Point is a secure and accredited shelter for women survivors of domestic violence and their children. Family Services has a group at their location and they provide referrals into private counseling as needed. They also offer therapy for children staying in the shelter with their mothers.

Finally, TAP’s domestic violence services program focuses on crisis intervention and has a hotline for people who need immediate resources. They have several different programs to meet the needs of various situations including one that facilitates an environment for parents who are no longer together but are granted supervised visitation.

The Star City Survivors Support Group is made up of a group of women who start the ten-week course together after being referred into the group. Going through the course together allows them to build a community of people who can lift one another up.

There are ways that we can help as a community. Turning Point has a list of items they will take for donations including feminine hygiene products, food, and clothes. You can also provide information on Family Service of Roanoke Valley to someone in need of counseling services. Visit their website,, for more details.

Meet the Makers: Brigit True Organics

Organic skin products were scarce in the early 2000s. However, even then, Brigitte Rau had a vision of these becoming the new age of skin care. In 2001, Rau created Brigit True Organics (BOT), based in Charlottesville, Virginia. Through this venture, she creates and sells natural body care containing organic olive oil for sensitive skin.

IMG_7155Brigitte, co-owner and founding partner of BOT, understood that not many products were helping the global community with ingredient impact. With this in mind, she stood by creating products that didn’t leave a “footprint” on our planet. All of her skin care products are 100% natural and 74-99% organic. They are great for your skin, and great for the environment too! Even the packaging is green and sustainable to pair with the products.

“As the formulator, my primary goal has always been to find the purest materials and highest quality organic ingredients available”, says Brigitte. “We have followed organic practices since we began in 2001, and are grateful for our loyal customers who appreciate our commitment to quality and purity standards.”

IMG_7157The company offers body lotion, soap, lip balm, skin balm, baby product, and even laundry and cleaning supplies. All of these are now USDA National Organic Program certified. These products can be used for any skin type since they are gentle enough for the most sensitive skin.

“We are recognized as one of the very few true organic body care producers,” explains Brigitte.

The ultimate goal of Brigit True Organics is to create a skin care line that can be worn by every skin and can produce little waste for the environment. This means that BOT’s philosophy goes beyond the life of their products. By supporting sustainable agriculture and green production methods, they join a growing movement of people and companies committed to putting Earth first.

IMG_8038Brigit True Organics’ products can be found at

P.S. We are giving away a really cool prize pack over on our Facebook page! Check it out!


Written by Stacy Shrader

Dreamweavin: Counting down the days until FloydFest 16


There is hardly a more appropriate theme for FloydFest 16 than “Dreamweavin.” From July 27-31, the Floyd mountainside will once again transform into something even more captivating—a place where those who dream can meet to create, dance, and be inspired.

For those who will attend solely for the music, the lineup is (once again) spectacular. Thursday will feature performances from blues/folk artist Rebekah Todd & The Odyssey, Forlorn Strangers, and Anders Osborne. Enjoy the blues and folk sounds of Shakey FF16_DCLogo_wDateGraves on Friday, followed by Warren Haynes Ashes & Dust and the highly-anticipated Gregg Allman on Saturday. These are just a few of the local and well-known artists that will grace the nine (NINE!!!!!) stages throughout festival grounds over the course of five days. Plan ahead, visit the website, and make sure you get there in time to see your favorite bands perform. Give yourself time to wander a little to different stages before and after the shows you plan to see—some of the best musical discoveries happen that way.

Between performances, there will be no shortage of fun and entertainment for festival-goers. Those with an adventurous side will enjoy the guided hikes, bike expeditions, and free adventures offered at the Back Country Ski & Sport Outdoor Experience Tent. There, they will also offer equipment giveaways, discounts, and other promotions. Attendees can sign up for On The Water Floyd Float Trips by kayak, canoe, or tube. These trips are for people of all ages and will include transportation, equipment, and a fully-catered lunch with the purchase of a separate ticket for the trip.

And, if you’re just there to relax and enjoy the combination of unique sites and sounds filling the Blue Ridge Mountains, don’t worry. There will be plenty of opportunities to unwind! FloydFest features several healing arts vendors and offers massage therapy, yoga, internal martial arts, medicinal and edible herb walks.

PressShot7This is a family event. Bring your children, of all ages, to enjoy the Children’s Universe and Teen Scene. The Children’s Universe includes fun activities like a costume tent, balloon art, jugglers, face-painting, and puppets. They also host a Peace Parade and an open mic/talent show. If your child plays an instrument, encourage them to bring it along with any costume or inspiration to help “Weave the Dream!”

The Teen Scene is hosted by Social Emotional Learning Coalition, an organization dedicated to helping young people experience a deeper sense of connection and belonging with themselves, others, and the natural world. There, teens can participate in a number of activities including mixed media art workshops and painting parties, mindfulness meditation, and drumming workshops.

You can find all of the above information with a little research, but we would also like to share a few things about FloydFest that you may not know.

It is a safe, welcoming place. The people who attend are friendly (occasionally barefoot!) travelers and locals who will share your table in a beer garden or over breakfast. Within a few moments, you will be talking like old friends.

You will be inspired. Artist or not, you will leave FloydFest with a desire to make the world just a little more beautiful. You will see things differently, and even in your own backyard hammock you will find it easier to close your eyes, breathe deeply, and relax. To put it simply, your time on the mountain will teach you how to find peace in the real world.

Summer1You’ll crave new things. Not just adventure and music, but food. Really, really good food. There will be no shortage of delicious local choices available throughout the grounds at FloydFest. Start your morning with fresh juice, crepes, and/or Red Rooster Coffee. Keep the day going with dishes that include locally grown veggies and grass-fed beef. Trust us, the food alone will make you wish you could stay forever.

The local art, music, and friends you acquire will stay with you for years to come. We still carry our wristbands as keychains. And, the truth is, you’ll be counting down the days until FloydFest 17 on your calendar, beginning on August 1. One trip will make you fall in love with the mountain, the people, and the person you become surrounded by all of it.

Three days in Floyd are not enough. If you can, buy a five day ticket. Come camp with us and enjoy everything FloydFest has to offer! You will not regret it. Visit for more information on the lineup, the festival, and even a packing list! We can’t wait to see you there!

Extraordinary Women: Linda Webb

Linda Webb is more than the Executive Director of Opera Roanoke. She is a powerhouse for the art community, encouraging support for multiple organizations in our area. From Opera Roanoke’s performances to the exhibits at the Taubman Museum (and everything in between), she is one of many who reiterates that sustaining the arts is not just about raising money. It is about making sure people realize how special they are to Roanoke.

How did your interest in the art community begin?
I grew up loving literature, music, and theatre. It spoke to my soul and I had a little bit of talent in those areas. When I was in college, I studied playwriting with Pulitzer Prize-winning Paula Vogel. After I graduated, I began working in the business side of publishing in New York, but I kept my hand in the theatre world. After ten years in New York, I moved to Roanoke to get married and made the switch to nonprofit fundraising.

I began volunteering at Mill Mountain Theatre. I was excited about what they were doing there, and when their development person left, Jere Hodgin asked me to take the spot. I found that much of what I had done in New York in ad sales was transferrable. My experience had made me fearless when it came to calling on high level people.

Photo Credit: Lillian Orlinsky
Photo Credit: Lillian Orlinsky

What led you to Opera Roanoke?
I took some time off when I had a baby. I was still on boards even though I wasn’t actually working. The first board I was asked to be on was for Opera Roanoke. They asked me to contribute the fundraising knowledge I had as a volunteer. It was a way that I could keep my hand in that world even though it wasn’t full time.

Soon after, I began working at United Way. I always tried to include friends from the art world in various things that we did.

I stepped out of the working world for a while when my mother was ill. When I began looking for a job again, the president of Opera Roanoke’s board asked me to be the Executive Director and I accepted the offer. I know just enough to be dangerous, but I know more about opera than I did a year and half ago.

What can audiences expect from Opera Roanoke in 2016?
First, it’s important that even those who don’t think they like opera come out and give it a try. If you come to an opera once, you might just be hooked. Our unofficial slogan is, “Opera Roanoke, we don’t care what you wear.” It’s fun to dress up, but not everyone does. Be comfortable, come in your jeans.

Also, if you are a student, your ticket is free. If you’re not a student, you can buy a ticket for $25 and sometimes less with Groupon. Regardless of where you are sitting, you are going to enjoy the show.

This fall, we are going to do South Pacific. It’s sad, it’s happy, and the music is unbelievable. In the spring of 2017, we will be doing Susanna by American composer Carlisle Floyd. Both of these shows have to do with prejudice and overcoming it or not overcoming it. It’s very timely when you think about all the unhappy stuff that is going on in our country right now. However, it is going to speak to your heart and your brain on a different level than when you read or see the news. That is why I say, and I’m not kidding, opera can save the world.

For more information about Linda and Opera Roanoke’s upcoming season, visit