Cumberland Valley AVA falls within the Appalachian mountain chain, covering land in southern Pennsylvania and eastern Maryland. The region is home to a range of grape varieties, from cold-hardy hybrids to Vitis vinifera, Chardonnay, Cabernet Franc, Vidal Blanc and Niagara can all be found growing in the area's vineyards.
The challenging nature of the terroir here means that only a tiny portion of the AVA area is planted to vine.
Cumberland Valley is framed by a series of shallow hills and ridges in the eastern part of the Appalachians formed by millennia of unceasing erosion. South Mountain separates the AVA from the historical town of Gettysburg, and the Ridge-and-Valley Appalachians tower over the north-western part of the valley.
The valley's river basins make up just one area of the Great Valley, a much-larger limestone basin (similar in nature to the Paris Basin in northern France), which features free-draining, mineral-rich soils.
Cumberland Valley was delimited as an AVA in 1985, due to its unique geographical features and clear differentiation from the surrounding landscapes. However, the designation is rarely seen on bottles, because growers prefer to use the better-known Maryland and Pennsylvania state appellations.