About Fermenters International Trade Association
FITA changed its name from the Home Wine & Beer Trade Association (HWBTA) in early 2009. This was a watershed year in which HWBTA examined its mission and how it could best serve its current and potential members.Although HWBTA had a venerable history and an important advocacy role, it had become clear to the Board that interest and participation by HWBTA members was flagging.
When homebrewing first became legal under the Carter Administration, Norman Gibat and Kathleen Howard were publishing their Beverage Communicator and sensed that if the young homebrew industry was to grow, there was a need for a common direction. They contacted everyone they knew in the trade and invited them to attend the first conference in April 1976 in Chicago, Il.
That very weekend, they met, drafted by-laws and elected the first slate of officers in the span of three days and never looked back. They had accomplished in one weekend what our British counterparts had spent two years arguing over. The switch to the new name and mission of FITA was nearly as seamless 33 years later with new technology to aid in our communications.
Since 1976, the association has expanded to a membership high of 434 retailers, wholesalers and manufacturers in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, British West Indies, Belgium, Denmark, New Zealand, Scotland, Sweden, Italy and Australia.
FITA is a non-profit educational association whose mission is to advance the practice of the fermentaion arts, such as homebrewing, winemaking, and cheesecrafting to expand and strengthen the industry as a whole.
The HWBTA wasalways very active as an advocate to deal with government agencies concerning brewing laws and FITA pledges to take up that mantle. In addition, we pledge to be a unifying force in the industry where all manner of tradespeople can work together to learn to best serve our customers and bring more and more hobbyists to the rewards of fermentation. See our By-Laws - (PDF).
The association hosted a yearly conference for members to share ideas, learn new techniques, and examine new products. The 2010 Conference was held in Portland, OR.
Unfortunately, FITA is at a standstill right now. Probably because of the economy, there was a tremendous shortfall in renewing members and the conference for the last 2 years was poorly attended.As a result, the board has decided to cancel future conferences and wine competitions until things change and they also agreed to eliminate the membership fees. Membership is now FREE. So..at the moment, the organization is offering a presence on the web site in the retailer locator.