The history of the Engehöll district

The name “Engehöll” is not derived from “narrow hell”, which would be the literal German translation of the name, but is actually of Celtic origin. Most probably, in the opinion of the writer of the old chronicle of the school, the name started out as “Enginhalde”, which means “on the ridge of the mountain”. The second half of “Engehell”, as the district is also called today in local dialect, is etymologically related to old appellations for vineyard locations such as Beerhell, Rheinhell or Hardthell. It is assumed that the name “Weiler-Boppard” is also of Celtic origin, since there is evidence that “Boppard am Rhein” originates from “Bodobriga” or “Bodobrieum”. At any rate, the first settlers in Engehöll valley and in the tributary valley of Weiler-Boppard did well in choosing their new home. Sheltered from the worst of the weather by the mountain slopes, and with a never-ending supply of fresh water from the upper stream as well as the stream in Weiler-Boppard, the settlers could concentrate their energy on growing enough food on the mountain slopes to last them and their livestock through the winter months.
Besides agriculture, the area has also been strongly shaped by viticulture for many centuries. Even back in the 19th century, Engehöll was famed in major travel guides for its wine. The best vineyards, however, were owned by landowners from Oberwesel, by the nobility, and of course by the church. Today, visitors experience Engehöll and Weiler-Boppard as peaceful and calm. Vintners and hobby wine-growers go about their work in their vineyards on south and south-west facing slopes. The main variety of grapes to be grown here is the queen of vines, the Riesling variety.

Over the centuries, this variety has proved to produce the best yield and cope best with the prevailing weather conditions. However, Müller-Thurgau, Kerner, Bacchus and other varieties also benefit from the warm slate soil in these Rhenish slate mountains. The mountain slopes on the opposite side, receiving less sun, are covered with coppices. There are plenty of walks available for those looking to relax outside, not only in the vineyards but also on the wooded slopes. Even on the most peaceful and most remote path, however, no-one need worry about getting lost. As soon as you start to follow any stream in one of the countless tributary valleys, you know it will ultimately lead you back to Weiler-Boppard, Engehöll and Oberwesel. Visitors to the area can stop off for a rest or a chat at any number of restaurants, wineries and wine cellars, where there is of course plenty to eat and drink, allowing walkers to recharge their batteries before plodding on. Those who walk through the villages attentively will not miss the two chapels in the villages. The chapel in Engehöll was built in 1925 on a plateau cut into the rock face specially for the purpose. The little chapel in Weiler-Boppard has stood on the same site and served the locals for centuries. Both are cherished and lovingly tended treasures, and bear witness? To the Christian spirit of solidarity even in times of distress.

Together, the two hamlets have a total population of around 300, a figure which has remained stable for decades. Those who have their roots here are loathe to move to higher municipalities. Job opportunities are rare, but this problem can be solved by commuting to Koblenz and Mainz. The problem is lessened further by the excellent road connections via the trunk road no. 220 and the A 61 motorway. Unfortunately, employment in the vineyards here is on the decline, not only due to rising cost pressures, but also due to the fact that manual labour in the mountain vineyards is extremely demanding. However, established businesses appear to be generating a good income thanks to modern vineyard technology, modern wine cellar equipment and active marketing. In addition, some vintners are expanding their business and widening the distance between their rows of vines, so that the overall surface area dedicated to viticulture remains more or less constant.

Restaurants and wineries in the area are all somehow linked to the viticulture industry, and are geared to cope with occasional hard times. Without exception, they have all been family-owned for generations.

Overall, the life-expectancy of people living in our valley is above average, both for those working in the vineyards as well as for those in other trades. It is not uncommon to find three generations living under one roof here, or at least close by each other.
Nor do locals have problems deciding how to spend their leisure time here. Various societies and clubs offer locals opportunities to spend their free evenings meaningfully. Over the year, various societies appeal for volunteers to engage not only in festive events, but also to help out with traditional activities, uphold ancient customs and solicit funds which are channelled fully into community activities. 

Whether in neighbourhood organisations, amateur sports teams or the voluntary fire brigade (which actually here has no official function, as the fire brigade in Oberwesel is responsible for emergencies) - the locals here know how and where to get involved.

As with the construction of the chapel in Engehöll, it was the locals who pulled together to build the shelter. Today, this shelter offers a lookout point with panoramic views over the valley to Oberwesel, and a fantastic view of Schönburg Castle.

Let’s hope the future of the two villages is as vibrant as the past has been!

Mayor Frido Persch
Rieslingstraße 81
55430 Oberwesel-Engehöll
Phon: +49 (0) 67 44 - 710 265


Map of Engehöll