Wineries and growers from Monterey County's Santa Lucia Highlands appellation have banded together to promote the winegrowing district.

The newly formed "Wine Artisans of Santa Lucia Highlands" primary goal is to increase awareness and appreciation of the SLH.

Founding members Bill Leigon of Hahn Estates, Dan Lee of Morgan, Gary Franscioni of ROAR, Richard Smith of Paraiso, and Steve Pessagno of Pessagno will serve as the initial directors of the organisation.

The organisation will focus its efforts on educating consumers, trade and the wine media. The first priority of the organisation will be to create a web site, showcasing its members and offering information about the viticulture of the region.

The organisation will also host a number of events, the first of which is tentatively scheduled for May, 2006.

"We want to show people that the Santa Lucia Highlands can produce Chardonnay, Syrah and Pinot Noir the equal of any in the world," said Bill Leigon, president of Hahn Estates winery.