Re: Starting grape plants from seed
Hi James and welcome to the forum.
Your first and most important question has to be "why are they dying?" Lots of grapes are grown in New York State, but Upstate New York is not specifically familiar to me. Do your neighbors grow grapes? If so, what varieties? There's usually a reason. How are your soils? Grapes need a well drained site. Ground temperatures in hollows can be several degrees colder than the surrounding slopes.
OK, so you've determined grapes can grow there.
Grape seeds are not (generally speaking) easy to germinate as they have a very high proportion of dormancy. The only usual reason for growing from seed is following intentional cross pollenation to develop a new variety. I don't have actual figures, but I would guess that over 99% of grape propagation is by clonal methods (cuttings, grafting, micropropagation).
The folks who do try to grow from seed have chemicals and equipment that you are unlikely to have (gibberellic acid - GA3, and climate controll cabinets for daily alternating temperatures for 6 weeks), but some that you can approximate.
Try refrigerating for 90 to 120 days(1-5 deg C), followed by warm stratification at 30 to 36 deg C for 2 days then soak in 0.5M hydrogen peroxide for 24 hours, then germinate at 30 deg C with 12/12 hours light /dark. Well drained, moist potting soil or a home blend of 1:1:1 sand:peat:perlite will work fine.
As for timing, once they have sprouted you must be able to provide them with Spring weather, either the real thing or a greenhouse/ growing room. Plant them out well after the danger of frost has passed.