THE ROAD LESS
When most people think of California, they think of the beaches and palm trees of Los Angeles and San Diego, or the San Francisco Bay, or the vineyards of Napa Valley. Central California isn’t usually the first locale that comes to mind—but it is as much as part of the California experience as the northern and southern parts of the state.
Of course, to automotive enthusiasts, Monterey Car Week in Central California is one of the year’s essential events, with the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance and related activities drawing the entire industry to the area for one week every year. Two hours south of Monterey and about 30 miles inland lies the town of Paso Robles, at the heart of the lesser-known Central California wine country. And while the frequently traveled Highway 101 is the easiest way to get from Monterey to Paso Robles, the roads less traveled between these two destinations reveal Central California’s stunning scenery: the idyllic Carmel Valley, the coastal state parks of Big Sur, the farmland along the 101, and the winding backcountry roads surrounding Paso Robles.
This journey reinforces the old idea that taking the road less traveled can reveal hidden gems and new experiences, and that getting lost can sometimes be the most important part of the journey.
Much like Central California and Paso Robles, the British carmaker McLaren is perhaps not as well-known as some of its flashier alternatives—but its legacy is just as rich. The brand’s history dates back to the 1960s, when the British racecar driver Bruce McLaren developed his own Formula 1 car. Since then, McLaren has built numerous race-winning cars, with such legends as Niki Lauda and Lewis Hamilton behind the wheel.
Today McLaren is perhaps best known for its iconic road cars, from the celebrated McLaren F1 of the 1990s to the McLaren P1 supercar, which debuted in 2013. McLaren’s lineup of road cars has evolved to include the Ultimate, Super, and Sport series, which are some of the most statement-making designs on the road today.
Bernardus Lodge & Spa
20 Minutes southeast of Monterey
Following a busy Monterey Car Week, the journey on the road less traveled begins at Bernardus Lodge & Spa in the heart of scenic Carmel Valley, about 20 minutes southeast of Monterey. Set on 26 acres of vineyards, orchards, and gardens near the scenic Santa Lucia Mountains, the resort is a destination unto itself, with world-class food and wine as well as one of the finest spas and wellness programs in Central California.
The resort’s 73 guest rooms, suites, and villas blend old-world elegance with contemporary comforts and amenities. The preeminent accommodations are the two-bedroom, 2,100-square-foot villas, which each feature a 12-person dining table, a large private outdoor terrace with fire pit, and secluded outdoor showers. All of the accommodations are designed and situated to allow guests to experience the resort’s natural beauty.
Following a light breakfast and a cappuccino at the resort’s serene Lucia Restaurant & Bar, a morning drive in the McLaren 570S Spider provides a thrilling opportunity to head west and take in one of the most scenic stretches of California’s iconic coastline.
Bernardus Lodge & Spa
McLaren 570S Spider
For everyday drivers, the Sport Series represents vehicles that embody McLaren’s track history without for going the comfort and sophistication that define today’s best-performing road cars. The newest member of the Sport Series is the McLaren 570S Spider, which offers a top-down driving experience perfect for taking the road less traveled.
The 570S Spider features McLaren’s uncompromising design aesthetic, with a low and poised stance that emphasizes the mid-engine layout. Its MonoCell II lightweight carbon-fiber construction, clean and aerodynamic lines, dihedral doors, and side air intakes create a sculpted fluidity that helps enable the car’s stunning performance. With a 3.8-liter, twin-turbocharged V-8 engine and 7-speed seamless-shift gearbox, the 570S Spider reaches a top speed of 204 mph and jumps to 60 mph from a stand still in just 3.1 seconds.
The interior of the 570S Spider is designed around the driver. Such features as hand-stitched leather, satin-chrome highlights, a floating center console, and an easy and intuitive7-inch touchscreen display make the cabin a dream for drivers. And with a retractable hard top that takes just 15 seconds to disappear into the tonneaudeck and can be operated while traveling as fast as 25 mph, the 570S Spider is the ideal vehicle for exploring open roads in the utmost style, comfort, and performance.
Justin vineyards & winery
about 30 minutes west of downtown Paso Robles
A full morning taking in the Central California scenery behind the wheel of the McLaren 570S Spider creates a voracious hunger. A meandering but blissful drive down the coast and inland leads to JUSTIN Vineyards and Winery. Located about 30 minutes west of downtown Paso Robles, the property is set on 160 acres of sprawling vineyards and rolling hills. While JUSTIN is best known specifically for its incredible Bordeaux wines, the Restaurant at Justin beckons with a seasonal menu of locally sourced dishes.
The visceral drive calls for lunch, which starts with a summer salad of melons and Fresno chilies from nearby Loo Loo Farms, along with Peruvian peppers and succulent Laughing Bird shrimp, and herbs and blossoms from the JUSTIN garden. A glass of 2016 Sauvignon Blanc refreshes the senses, especially on a late-summer day. The main course is executive chef Will Torres’s signature take on a classic cheeseburger and fries with black truffle and parmesan. Paired with the 2014 vintage of JUSTIN’s bold but approachable Isosceles—a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and Merlot—the meal is hearty and satisfying. It prompts a postprandial walking tour to take in the gorgeous property, which feels like an expansive Bordeaux estate.
The winery’s founder, Justin Baldwin, planted his first vineyards here in 1981, and the brand has since helped make Paso Robles one of California’s finest winemaking regions. The area benefits from hot days and cold nights, with soil rich in sandstone and limestone, all of which helps the grapes grown here reach the full potential of their character and makes them especially suited to creating big Bordeaux-style blends.
A highlight of JUSTIN is the underground caves, which feel like ancient catacombs and offer a welcome reprieve from the heat. The property also has four intimately and tastefully appointed guest suites on site at the JUST Inn—and the 1,400-square-foot hilltop Chateau is too luxurious to pass up. It features four bedrooms and would be perfect for a wedding or a big private event. It’s also a magnificent vantage point from which to take in what may be the best views in Paso Robles. Whatever the reason for staying here, the Chateau practically requires guests to take an afternoon rest before exploring what else the town has to offer.
JUSTIN Vineyards and Winery
570 Spider Specifications
Top speed: 204 mph
0-60 mph: 3.1 seconds
Engine: 3.8–liter twin-turbocharged V-8
Configuration: Mid-engine, rear-wheel drive
Power: 562 bhp
Torque: 443 ft lbs
Dry weight: 2,895 pounds
about 26 minutes driving east
The winding canyon roads between JUSTIN Winery and downtown Paso Robles may be the highlight of the journey. During the drive past open fields and rolling hills, the early-evening light contrasts with the 570S Spider’s Curacao Blue paint job so well that it looks like a movie scene.
With nightfall comes the hunger for another meal, and Artisan restaurant is the undisputed fine-dining stable of Paso Robles. It has twice received James Beard nominations, and it puts together a refreshingly casual but nonetheless masterful menu.
The small plates are good enough to make up an entire meal—especially the mushroom toast with bacon, crème fraîche, and a poached egg, which is nothing short of to die for. But the halibut, prepared on a bed of shrimp risotto with sugar snap peas and matelote, sounds too good to ignore.
The atmosphere at Artisan is unpretentious, despite how high-quality the food is. It’s the sort of place you stumble into and then fall in love with—and then, like the town of Paso Robles, you find yourself never wanting to leave.
McLaren 570S Spider
Built for the road less traveled
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