Just a drive south of Camdenton takes visitors to Rosewood Farms, a place full of old-world tradition, nostalgia and chocolate, chocolate, chocolate.

Need a short outing?  Hungry for a new place to shop? Want to get out and see the Ozarks countryside? Have anyone on your Christmas list who loves chocolate? 

Then check out Rosewood Farms, a rustic barn-like building chockablock with Ozark music, gift items and a ton of Christmas decorations. Those things, however, are all extra.

The real reason for visiting Rosewood Farms is Grandpa Joe’s chocolates — handmade chocolate candies developed over four generations of the Boyster family and sold fresh only at Rosewood Farms — though they’re shipped all over the world.

And the time to go is between Nov. 2-7 when Rosewood will be pulling out all the stops — and chocolates — to give Christmas shoppers a real Ozark holiday experience.

The four generations of Boysters who work at Rosewood Farms will be serving hot mulled cider, fudge and other goodies daily while people browse through everything from ornaments, wreaths, florals, ironwork, antiques, house wares, rugs, textiles, bath and body items, candles and more. And for those who need a break and pick-me-up, there’s a great coffee bar that also serves, what else, chocolates.

The Boyster family will tell you that proprietor John Boyster’s father – that’s Grandpa Joe — always wanted to be a chocolatier. He attended candy making school in California in the 1940s then developed and shared his chocolate confections with family and friends.

When he died in 1966, he had yet to make his chocolate shop a reality, but son, John, and his wife, Melody, made it happen. After they found Grandpa Joe’s recipes, they spent another year developing them into recipes they could make commercially in large quantities without sacrificing the old-world flavor of the originals.

Today, the Boysters make chocolate the old fashioned way – using only real butter and real fruit in their chocolates, and no paraffin or other additives. The shop features more than 100 different milk and dark chocolate items, from molded solid chocolates to “Ozark snappers” (think  Turtles), to chocolate creams, nuts and caramels, to brittles, toffees and a host of others.

Since they opened in one room a decade ago, the shop has grown into a sprawling 4,000 foot “farmhouse” that sits on the west side of Route 5 north of Hartville. The annual “Christmas in the Ozarks” celebration has also grown:  more than a thousand people are expected to attend this year’s four-day holiday party.

Getting there
Rosewood Farms is located on the west side of Route 5 about 45 miles south of Camdenton and 5 miles north of Hartville. The road is windy and hilly, sometimes dipping down to cross wooded creeks, sometimes following a ridge next to wide pastures. There are a few small towns between Camdenton and Arkansas, but it’s mostly a road of rocks, trees, creeks, and critters. And Rosewood Farms.

Rosewood Farms is open year around 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday-Friday and 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday. (417-741-6915 grandpajoeschocolates.com)

Food along the Way
Lebanon is the largest community between the lake and Rosewood Farms. It offers a variety of places to eat, including

Django’s Coffee House, with a selection of coffees, sweets and Panini sandwiches.  1844 S. Jefferson, Lebanon 417-588-2211, djangoscoffee.com.

If you go
WHAT Rosewood Farms and Grandpa Joe’s Old Fashioned Chocolates
WHERE 7345 Route 5; Hartville, Mo.
HOURS Monday-Saturday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.
INFO 417-741-6915
ONLINE www.rosewood-farms.com

Contact the Lake Sun Newsroom at newsroom@lakesunonline.com.