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Napa Valley to host Wildfire Resilience Summit

Taking place this week, the summit will discuss ways to mitigate the adverse effects experienced by wineries, local businesses and community members caused by wildfires.

The Wildfire Resilience Summit has been organised by New York-based insurance company Galway Holdings and will take place from 9-10th March at The Estate Yountville in the heart of Napa Valley’s wine country.

It will bring prominent insurance companies and highly regarded wineries together in a series of sessions which will look at the devastating effects of recent wildfires on the businesses and local communities in Napa County.

Linda Reiff, president and CEO of the non-profit Napa Valley Vintners trade association, commented that wildfires have had a ‘crippling effect’ on the wine industry. ‘At the end of the day, we are an agricultural community, and our livelihood depends on ensuring our land and resources are safe,’ she said, reinforcing the trade association’s eagerness to partake in the summit.

On the first day of the summit, Galway Holdings’ executive chairman John Hahn will host multiple sessions with winery owners and insurance providers. in which they’ll discuss the impacts of wildfires on their respective companies. Hahn is a passionate advocate for wildfire resilience efforts, believing that establishing a solid partnership between the insurance industry, local wineries, and regional government is a crucial first step to finding solutions to the crisis.

‘The scale and impact of the wildfire crisis demand a collaborative and thoughtful response,’ he said. Insurers ‘must adapt their underwriting approach in light of new technologies, models, research, mitigation tactics and community efforts in hardening defences,’ he added.

Hahn’s statement comes in light of numerous recent tragic events, including the Glass Fire Incident of 2020 which wreaked havoc on more than 27,000 hectares of land.

On the summit’s second day, attendees will visit local wineries and homes to learn more about the strategies and efforts in place to protect their assets and the people in their communities. The summit’s Napa County location seeks to shed light on the region’s insurability crisis.

Other seminars include ‘Reading the Smoke: The science of measuring and modelling smoke to better determine smoke damage related losses’ presented by Lyle Chinkin and Tami Lavezzo from Sonoma Technology, and ‘Bird’s Eye View: Overview of the Napa Response’, hosted by Linda Reiff of Napa Valley Vintners.

Overall, California’s wine industry brings approximately $170bn to the US economy annually. Napa County plays a significant part in that total number. As wildfires continue to pose a massive threat to residents and businesses alike, Galway Holdings is confident that working cooperatively to find a promising strategy for property owners and insurers will lead to a mutually beneficial solution.

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