Madonna’s father Tony Ciccone has dismissed reports his daughter gave him nearly a million dollars to bail out his wine business as ‘totally untrue’.

Ciccone Vineyards in Michigan – owned and run by Ciccone and his wife Joan – produces award-winning Gewurztraminer and Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Franc, Pinot Grigio and dessert wines.

The 72-year-old father of one of the world’s most recognised pop stars is incensed by news reports earlier this month that said his business was ‘ailing’, and that Madonna handed over US€900,000 (€738,00) to help him, in exchange for a majority shareholding.

‘The whole story is totally untrue,’ he told Decanter contributor Tom Stevenson, who has known Tony Ciccone since interviewing him for the magazine in 2000.

Producing wine in some of the coldest and most inhospitable vine country in the world is a tough and unremunerative business, but those who know Ciccone dismiss the idea that his famous daughter helped him in any way.

Stevenson said, ‘How do I know that Madonna has not put a dime into the business? When I stayed with the family during the 2003 harvest, Tony came in after working a 12-hour day. He collapsed into an armchair, his blue dungarees covered in grape pips and stained with juice. His one and only pump had broken, and he was trying to move crushed Pinot Noir from the press to a tank with a small bucket.

‘He said, “It’s no use Joan, I’m going to have to buy a new pump,” to which Joan replied, “Is that before or after I get the new cooker I’ve needed for the last two years?”

‘Does this true story suggest they were broke, giving credence to Madonna bailing them out? No, it doesn’t. It just demonstrates they are making ends meet themselves.’

Stevenson added, ‘I also find it hard to believe that Madonna would deliberately leak a story that would humiliate her father.’

He pointed out that although she probably does have difficult relationship with him, it is also a warm one.

In her 1999 book Madonna In her Own Words she writes, ‘I have a million different feelings about my father, but mostly I love him to death.’

Written by Adam Lechmere