Grand Cru Wine Tours is pleased to announce that, in our desire to develop sustainable business practices, we are the first wine tour company to become second party eco-certified through the rigorous Sustainable Tourism Eco-certification Program™ (STEP) offered through Sustainable Travel International (STI). When we started, being green wine tour company was a personal requirement for me. This certification – and our sustainability management plan that we continue to improve – is another way for us to show our customers that we take sustainability seriously.
STEP is the pre-eminent standard in sustainable tourism certification. It establishes a minimum set of criteria for sustainability, and also to serve as an educational resource and management framework for businesses. To become second party certified, we completed a thorough and comprehensive self-assessment, drafted our sustainability policies, collected baseline measurements of environmental, social, and economic impacts, and submitted evidence of implementation for numerous best practices.
Next up will be an on-site assessment by an independent party, known as third party certification. This rigorous process is the highest level of transparency and therefore offers a higher level of certification.
So what are some of our sustainability practices? We use recycled papers and soy-based inks, reduce waste and maximize recycling wherever possible, educate our drivers regarding fuel efficient driving, and carefully plan routes to minimize the total miles driven. You can visit our sustainability policy to learn more about our practices and goals.
Preserving local culture and stimulating local economies is also important for us at Grand Cru Wine Tours. We bear the responsibility to ensure the health and well-being of the communities in which we work. Tourism accounts for 18% of Oregon’s economy, so dedication to sustainable tourism is essential for the health and welfare of our planet and our local community. As such, we serve predominantly local products such as meats, cheeses, breads, and chocolates on our wine tours; with a focus on working with businesses that also emphasize sustainability.
I personally hate greenwashing. When we started, I knew that I wanted a framework around which to design our sustainability practices that was comprehensive and truly reflective of industry practices, and STEP offered that framework. Achieving this certification was the next step for us in this process. We are also working on completing the voluntary reporting requirements for the Travel Oregon Sustainable Business Challenge. We look forward to continuing to improve our practices and encourage others to do the same.