The origin of the winegrowers' association, founded in 1992, lay in regular meetings of ten winegrowers from the two Lower Austrian wine-growing regions Kamptal and Kremstal with an exchange of experience regarding sites and vineyards in connection with their soils, microclimate and grape varieties and their management. The 1992 statutes already defined the objective of establishing a vineyard site classification in the Danube region. The association was not understood as an elite, but as a community of values, in which the marketing of wines according to their origin has top priority.
Initially, these were sites from the four wine-growing regions Kamptal, Kremstal, Traisental and Wagram. In 2018, the two wine-growing regions Carnuntum and Vienna which increased the number of members to 62 wineries. With the addition of five more members, the number has grown to a total of 67 farms as of September 2020. Since June 2007 Michael Moosbrugger from Weingut Schloss Gobelsburg has been chairman of the association. His deputies are the winegrowers Philipp Grassl, Gerhard Lobner, Gerhard Markowitsch, Martin Nigl and Fritz Wieninger.
One of the main objectives of the project was and is to classify the historical sites of the Danube region. The basis is the vineyard sites recorded in the Josephinian Cadastre of 1823. Already at the time of its foundation, the terms or the three-tier hierarchy Classified Site, First Site and Great First Site were coined. The quality of the wines is to be checked by regular tastings. The members understand it as their obligation to express the characteristics of their region, their soils, their climate (microclimate), their grape varieties and their cellars in the wines. The principle is that first-class wines cannot be defined exclusively by sugar gradations(must weight), but that even the best winemakers can only produce a great wine from an exceptional vineyard.
For almost two decades the wines and their vineyards have been observed, discussed and analysed. Finally, a total of 62 sites in the four wine-growing regions Kamptal, Kremstal, Traisental and Wagram were defined as "first sites". These are the sites that have proven to be the best 10% of the area over the past 20 years. In Vienna, the Winzervereinigung WienWein has carried out a vineyard site classification in recent years and defined a total of 12 "Erste Lagen". In Carnuntum, scientific geological research has already been carried out for about ten years, which has been incorporated into the classification process. The classification of the sites was completed in 2019 with the founding of Carnuntum DAC.
Whether there will also be "Große Erste Lagen" as the highest hierarchy remains to be decided. The wines can be recognised by the protected word and picture mark or logo "1 ÖTW", which is printed on the label (price lists and catalogues) next to the site designation. Currently, only member wineries are allowed to use the mark for wines from the Grüner Veltliner and Riesling varieties; however, the circle of users is to be expanded.
The seal or logo of the traditional wineries consists of a sundial and compass (top left). The winemaker tries to orientate himself in a complex environment of geology, microclimate and cosmic influences. Sundial and compass are among the most traditional tools, the position of sun and moon, seasons and the tension between day and night play a major role. See also under viticulture institutions.