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Opinion
Francis Wilkinson

The Burning Question for California Wine Country

Will climate change ruin one of the most beautiful (and lucrative) valleys in the world?  

The Glass Fire rages in Napa Valley, Sept. 27, 2020.

The Glass Fire rages in Napa Valley, Sept. 27, 2020.

Photographer: SAMUEL CORUM/AFP

Down the hall from Tom Knecht’s office in St. Helena, hanging on a wall near the reception area, is a memento from the Before Times: an official photograph of several dozen California firefighters in their dress blues, commemorating the 2015 fire season.

It was a memorable year for the Sonoma-Lake-Napa unit of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, commonly known as Cal Fire. The Valley Fire of September 2015 was the kind of experience that firefighters talk about for years, a “once-in-a-career event,” said Knecht, the unit’s division chief.